What are food recalls and alerts?

A food recall is an action taken to remove from sale, distribution, and consumption of food which may pose a safety risk to consumers.

With frequent news of outbreaks, many people wonder whether foodborne illness is on the rise and whether safety measures across the nation adequately protect our food supply.

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What is the cause of the increase in food illness outbreaks?

It’s hard to point to a single issue that’s causing the uptick in outbreaks. There haven’t been any major changes in regulatory policies, nor has there been a massive shift in the type of outbreaks being reported. There are just more of them.

According to the experts, the increase in food-illness outbreaks could be tied to a variety of factors such as:

  1. The food safety experts identifying food illness incidents sooner;
  2. The increases in food and vegetable imports; and
  3. A growing emphasis on convenience in the food industry – resulting in greater risk.


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What is a food recall?

A food recall occurs when there is reason to believe that a food may cause consumers to become ill. A food manufacturer or distributor initiates the recall to take foods off the market. In some situations, food recalls are requested by government agencies (USDA or FDA).
Some reasons for recalling food include:

  • Discovery of an organism in a product which may make consumers sick.
  • Discovery of a potential allergen in a product.
  • Mislabeling or misbranding of food. For example, a food may contain an allergen, such as nuts or eggs, but those ingredients do not appear on the label.
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Latest FoodSafety.gov Food Recalls & Alerts

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