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University of Minnesota Extension

Don't ignore food recalls

Woman reading a food label

You hear a news report, a food item is recalled? What do you do? Don't ignore food recalls.

Why not ignore them?

Food recalls protect the public from products that may cause injury, illness or even death. Food products are recalled to remove them from the marketplace because there is reason to believe the products may be defective, adulterated, contaminated, misbranded or mislabeled.

Most common reasons for a food recall

  • Foods are contaminated with a foodborne pathogens such as E. coli or Salmonella.
  • Foods contain an undeclared food allergen. A food allergen ingredient is in the product but not listed on the ingredient label.
  • Foods contains physical contaminants such as plastic, glass or metal fragments.
Label - U.S. Inspected and passed by Department of Agriculture.

When a food item is recalled, learn the facts and take action!

Follow these 5 steps as the final food safety defense:

  1. Check food item recalls on the foodsafety.gov recall page, at the store you purchased the item or with the manufacturer of the product.
  2. Check your cupboards, refrigerator and/or freezer for the product.
  3. If you purchased the product, read the food label, compare it to the plant, establishment and lots codes on the recall notice. If it matches and is a recalled product, do not consume it or feed to animals.
  4. Follow the instructions to return or dispose of the product.
  5. Remember, only products indicated in the recall notifications are unsafe. For example, if Kumquats were recalled from only producer A. Kumquats from producer B and C are safe to buy and eat because they were not part of the recall.

Suzanne Driessen, Extension educator and Kathy Brandt, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2021

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