Food Safety Recalls and Multistate Outbreaks

Why are foods recalled?

A food recall occurs when there is reason to believe that a food may cause consumers to become ill. Typically, a food manufacturer or distributor initiates the recall to take foods off the market. However at times, it is neccessary for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) to request a food be recalled.

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

What do I need to do if I have a recalled product?

When a food is recalled, the announcement will list the specific product(s), the lot number(s) or best-if-used-by date(s) involved, and the state(s) where the food was sent. If everything matches and you indeed have a recalled product, the announcement will provide information regarding what to do next (for example, whether to double bag and discard, or return to the store). The manufacturer will often provide a phone number consumers can call to find out more information or ask questions. Some manufacturers provide refunds for the product(s) recalled or a coupon to purchase another product they manufacture.

What is a foodborne outbreak?

A foodborne outbreak is when two or more unrelated people get the same illness from the same food or drink. Most outbreaks occur at the local level and are investigated by local public health officials. However, when a foodborne outbreak involves a product that has been distributed widely, multiple state and federal public health agencies may become involved.

How are foodborne outbreaks investigated?

2018 Selected Multistate Foodborne Outbreak Investigations Involving Alabama Residents

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Page last updated: November 28, 2018