Operations – Dealing with Recalls

By Daniel Thor, Bellissimo Foods

Recalls are unfortunate events, but events that require careful monitoring and preparedness in order to avoid devastating effects.  In this article we will discuss how operators can stay informed of recent recalls, and what you should do if your location is impacted by a food recall.

Tracking Recalls – According to the Center for Disease Control, there are an estimated 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths related to food-borne illnesses every year.  When a product is recalled time is of the essence.  Every minute that the contaminated product is out in public domain it poses an ever-increasing health risk.  Staying informed is essential to making sure your customers stay healthy.  If any reported cases of illness stem from your establishment, your business could be in serious jeopardy.

For up-to-date information on foodservice product recalls, the most conclusive, relevant website to check is the Food and Drug Administration’s recall site – FDA.gov/safety.  You can even sign up for e-mail alerts from the FDA for recall notifications or find and follow the FDA on Twitter where they post recalls in real time.

Recall Ready – If you hear of a recall that might affect you, check the product details in the recall notice against the food you have on hand, usually by package date or lot number.  Contact Delco Foods for more information about disposal, replacement and refunds.  Also check the recall notice for the severity of the recall.  Some recalls are for inaccurate labeling information and others are for serious bacterial contamination.  If you have a recalled product, do not eat, serve or even open the product.  Segregate the product from the others and make sure it is clearly marked so no one else could mistake it for usable product.  The recall notice should state whether the product should be disposed of, but a simple rule of thumb “when in doubt, throw it out”.  If you do dispose of the product you can use your itemized invoice to collect a refund from the place of purchase.

If you have already handled the contaminated food product, make sure to wash all possible contaminated surfaces thoroughly.  It is better to overestimate possibly contaminated surfaces than underestimate in this situation.  That includes countertops, utensils, and the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator.  For a listeria breakout, the FDA advises that you sanitize these materials with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water, then dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. 

If you are affected by a recall the best course of action is to stay informed.  See the websites, or call the hotlines provided in the recall notice, and follow their instructions.  With food recalls on the rise, it more than likely you will be affected by a recall at some point.  It is best to be prepared as opposed to caught off guard.

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