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Extension > Food > Food Safety > For Foodservice Industry > Regulations, Policies, and Procedures > Food recalls: Are you prepared?

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Regulations, Policies, and Procedures

Food recalls: Are you prepared?

Kathy Brandt

Hardly a week goes by that we don't hear about a food recall such as Salmonella Newport in tomatoes, Salmonella Poona in cucumbers, Listeria monocytogenes in ice cream products or undeclared peanuts (allergen) in caramel apples. A food recall occurs when there is reason to believe that a food may cause injury, illness or even death. A food manufacturer, producer or distributor initiates a recall in cooperation with the federal agency of jurisdiction.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) provides the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to issue a mandatory recall when a company fails to voluntarily recall unsafe food after asked to do so.

Some reasons for recalling food include:

Food recall classification

Frequently asked questions

Q: How can I stay informed on food recalls?

A: FoodSafety.gov is the best source for complete and accurate food recall information. You should be notified by your supplier if one of their products is involved in a recall.

Follow their instructions for removal of the product from your establishment. If you purchase grocery items locally, those stores will receive alerts from their suppliers if products are involved in a recall. It's a complex system where good communication needs to flow between producers, processors, manufacturers, distributors to the end user.

Q: What do restaurants and retail establishments need to do if there is a food recall?

A: You should not use or serve any recalled item. Check your inventory and remove all items matching the recall notice. Label the items, "PRODUCT RECALLED — DO NOT SELL or SERVE." Place the items in a secure location. Follow the suppliers' instructions for return or disposal of the product.

In addition, wash and sanitize all areas where the recalled product was used and stored in the facility including cutting boards, knives, utensils, display cases, refrigerators and any surfaces the product was in contact. If you processed and packaged any of the recalled product(s) prior to the recall notice, wash and sanitize all surfaces, utensils and equipment to prevent cross-contamination. Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.

Q: Recently cucumbers were recalled. Should I stop selling and serving cucumbers and anything that contains them?

A: Only products indicated in the recall notification are unsafe. For example, if cucumbers were recalled from producer A, cucumbers from producer B and C are safe to sell or serve because they are not part of the recall. During a recall it's critical to pay close attention to the details including lot or batch numbers and procedures to follow for removal of the product from your establishment.

Sources

FoodSafety.gov and U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Related resources

FoodSafety.gov nation-wide system; sign up to receive food recall alerts and view recent recalls.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture provides Minnesota Specific recall information and more.

Minnesota Department of Health provides Minnesota specific recall information and more.

2015

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