Script: Preventing Recalls
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Hello and welcome to the podcast series on recalls.! I’m Jeff White and with me is Dr.
Kerri L. Harris from FSIS. Today we’re discussing recalls in general and what you can
do as a plant owner, manager or operator to prevent them.
Dr. Harris, can you provide some general background on what a recall is?
Sure, Jeff. A recall is an action by a manufacturer or distributor to remove a product
from commercial channels. When a company conducts a recall of meat or poultry
products, it coordinates with FSIS, and FSIS provides needed information to the public
and monitors the effectiveness of the recall in removing product.
I understand there are different classes of recalls. Give us a little explanation of
That’s right, Jeff, FSIS categorizes recalls into one of three classes, based on the
potential public health hazard. Class I, the most serious, is one where there is a
reasonable probability that eating the product will cause health problems.
Class II involves a potential hazard situation in which there is a remote probability
of adverse health consequences; and class III involves a situation in which eating the
product will most likely not cause health problems at all. Most recalls involve food
that is adulterated or mislabeled in some fashion.
You mentioned food that is adulterated or mislabeled. What’s the difference between
Adulterated product is product that is found to be contaminated or is for some other
reason unheathful or unwholesome. An example of an adulterated product is one that
tests positive for a pathogen such as E. coli O157:H7. Mislabeled products are those
products with inadequate or misleading labels An example of that would be labels that
fail to disclose an ingredient known to be an allergen such as peanuts, wheat,
shellfish or soybeans. These ingredients may cause illness or even death to people who
are allergic to them.
So a product that is either adulterated or mislabeled is subject to a recall. What
else can you tell us about recalls?
Recalls are voluntary. Companies want to remove unsafe product from the
shelves -- it’s a matter of good business.
What can an establishment do to prevent the need for a recall?
One thing is to hold tested product until results are known. Legally, a product tested
for a pathogen may be shipped before results are determined, but if the test comes
back positive there is potentially a greater cost incurred to retrieve the product.
Most tests come back negative, but the short- and long- term costs to a business of
even a single recall could be enormous. If a company holds its products until the
testing process is complete, and there is a positive result, the company will have
avoided the devastating financial and public image consequences that can result from a
What about recalls for allergens?
Guest: Recalls due to undeclared allergens may be prevented by
double-checking label and ingredient statements and making sure that they accurately
reflect what the product is, and what it contains. Enhanced quality control can go a
long way in protecting public health.
Host: Where can we learn more about recalls?
Guest: FSIS’ web site contains a significant amount of information on
recalls. Just navigate to www.fsis.usda.gov or
call the FSIS Recall Management Staff at 202-690-6389.
Host: Thank you Dr. Harris. That’s all for now. Thanks for tuning in
and be sure to join us for another podcast in our recall series.
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