When a food you or your pets enjoy (or recently consumed) gets recalled, it can be a bit unsettling. Sure, not every recall has the potential to send you running for the commode—the severity of any recall varies depending on the product and reason for concern. Sometimes it’ll simply be a dietary supplement that didn’t declare it contains soy lecithin—but other times, it’ll be frozen shrimp contaminated with salmonella.
Food and product recalls happen more often than you probably realize, and the first time you hear about one that might affect you doesn’t need to be on the evening news—or when you’re already feeling an unnerving queasiness about you. Instead, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a detailed list of recalled products that it regulates—with convenient search functionality—that you can peruse on your own time and for your own peace of mind.
Here’s how to use the FDA’s product recall website to your advantage.
According to StateFoodSafety, a food recall is “a voluntary response from a supplier or manufacturer that removes products that are mislabeled or have a potential or obvious hazard.” These are regulated by the FDA to enforce accountability for companies and safety for consumers. Companies and warehouses go through regular inspections to reveal any malpractice or hazardous environments and ingredients. This doesn’t mean every recall is life or death, but it’s good to be aware of what could potentially harm you.
The FDA’s food recall website is currently home to 162 pages of food recalls, which can seem overwhelming if you’re just looking to hit the highlights. Sure, you can scroll down the list and click through to browse all pages, but there are search functions available if you know how you want to narrow down the results. The recall list is categorized by date of recall, food type, brand, and company name. Each item has a product description and a detailed recall explanation. The search toolbar at the top of the site can also help you personalize your search. If you want to search certain product types, you can use the drop-down menu to search food and beverage, animal and veterinary, dietary supplements, and more.
There’s also a drop-down option for terminated recalls. The FDA releases a recall when they’ve determined “all reasonable efforts have been made to remove or correct the violative product in accordance with the recall strategy, and proper disposition has been made according to the degree of hazard,” as mentioned on their site. The final column will detail whether the recall you are viewing has been terminated or is still active.
Just because a food item has been recalled doesn’t necessarily mean it would cause you harm. For example, a hand sanitizer product was recalled because it resembled water bottles and is being asked to change its packaging; it won’t harm you unless you drink it.
To know more about an individual recall, click on the brand name to expand the details. The description explains the exact circumstances of the recall and what the company is doing to correct the issue. A food recall might link to a specific allergen with the FDA cautioning people with that particular allergy about the product. Make sure you read the details thoroughly and follow any instructions for either disgarding the item or taking the necessary precautions.
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