Food recalls: Are you following directions? – part 1

We see food recalls in the news, but do we follow through to check if we have those items?

Studies show that current efforts to recall food items may be ineffective. Americans think food recalls are important, but they don’t always take actions for themselves. It has been determined that 84 percent indicate they pay close attention to news reports about food recalls, and 81 percent say they will tell others about a food recall. The truth is, fewer than 60 percent of Americans said they have ever checked their own food inventory for a recalled food item.

It might also be difficult to locate the appropriate information, such as date stamps or other codes that the recall advises you to check. Sometimes the recall is focused on a particular size container – not all sizes of a particular product. To better navigate this confusion, try to have as much information as possible when determining if the food you have on hand is being recalled.

What to do if there is a recall. The best resource for recalls on fresh produce and products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is You can also look for recently recalled foods at; this includes lists from the FDA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which monitors meat products.

Learn the facts surrounding the recall:

  • What products are safe to eat
  • Details concerning what was unsafe
  • Symptoms of the foodborne illness (if there is a foodborne illness linked to the recall)
  • What groups of people are most at risk?
  • Ask yourself, “What other information can I learn to avoid becoming ill or having a reaction myself?”

Sometimes major recalls can become major news stories where the media focuses on the investigation and numbers of illness caused by the contaminated items, or even cases of death.

Michigan State University Extension suggests educating yourself as a consumer to make wise choices; avoid throwing out foods that may not be a part of the recall and avoid a preventable foodborne illness or allergic reaction. Be aware – don’t tell everyone just what you hear, check your own food supplies too. For more information, read Part 2 of this article.

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