Food Recall Basics

As recent blog posts suggest, there are dozens of food recall notices posted in the United States each month. The Partnership for Food Safety Education has developed some fact sheets that they hope will help people sort through the information in recall notices and to take action to identify whether a recalled product is in their home.

Recall Basics. What you should know about food recalls (for consumers).

Food Recalls. What to look for if there’s a food recall.

According to recent research, most Americans say they pay close attention to news reports about food recalls, and 81% say that when they hear about a food recall they tell others. Yet fewer than 60% of Americans have ever checked their homes for a recalled food item. The Partnership for Food Safety Education has created simple fact sheets to orient consumers to the need to take notice of recalls, and to take action to identify whether a recalled product is in their home.

Here’s a summary of steps you can take if you find a recalled food in your own home.

  • Step 1: Don’t panic!  Look for more information.
    Most food recalls are not associated with a food illness outbreak, and many recalls are issued because there is a potential for the food to be contaminated but no illnesses are linked to the recall; it’s just a precaution. Look for more information at your local grocery store or online at
  • Step 2: Don’t eat the food.
    Even though the food product may be recalled only as a precaution, do not eat it! It’s always better to be safe than sorry. And please don’t give the food to other people (do not donate it to a food bank or a food pantry). Don’t feed it to your pets, either, because pets can get food poisoning, too.
  • Step 3: Don’t open the food.
    Resist the temptation to open the food and check it. You can’t always see, smell, or taste the bacteria or viruses that cause food illnesses. If you do handle the product, be sure to wash your hands.
  • Step 4: Check the recall notice to find out what to do with the food.
    When a manufacturer recalls a food product, they provide instructions on what to do with the product. The instructions will indicate whether you should: 1) Return the product to the store where you bought it for a refund, or 2) Properly dispose of the product.  As always, stay food safe. Barb