What the heck is a food recall?

March 15th, 2010

Did you ever wonder why all the fuss about food recalls? After all people are already sick and how much of the food that is recalled is actually ever returned?

According to Wikipedia a  product recall (in this case we are talking about food products) is a request (the key here is request) to return to the maker a batch or an entire production run of a product, usually due to the discovery of safety issues. In the case of foods and dependant on the type of food could be salmonella, e.coli or other contaminants that have resulted in food borne illnesses. The recall is an effort to limit liability for corporate negligence (which can cause costly legal penalties) and to improve or avoid damage to publicity. Recalls are costly to a company because they often entail replacing the recalled product or paying for damages caused in use, albeit possibly less costly than indirect cost following damages to brand name and reduced trust in the manufacturer. (author comments in red)

As an example of the above, the FDA recently recalled products that contained a potentially contaminated flavoring ingredient called hydrolyzed vegetable protein or (HVP). Last week as a result of the recall which grows daily a company recalled 1.7 million pounds of ready-to- eat beef taquito and chicken quesadilla products from a Houston based company. To date this FDA recall includes over 105 products.

How much of the products that are recalled are ever thrown out or returned for a refund is nearly impossible to measure. But this author is sure that of the 1.7 million pounds mentioned above, very little actually is returned and much of it has most likely already been consumed.

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