I know people on Facebook are just trying to be helpful….but they also spread fear and concern. Twice within the last week I’ve gotten a “FLASH NEWS ALERT” about a recall of shredded cheese due to Listeria. There were many “shares” on this post and also many people commenting that they were afraid and pitching the cheese in their refrigerator.
I try hard to keep up on food safety topics in the news and hadn’t heard anything about a new recall. So, I checked it out at the government’s food recall website FoodSafety.gov . This site provides food safety and food recall information from both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). At this website you can also sign up for alerts to be sent to your smart phone or email.
The FDA is responsible for about 80% of the food eaten in the United States. The Food Safety Inspection Service of the USDA monitors meat, poultry and egg products produced in federally inspected establishments. The web site will direct you to which agency is specifically involved with the recall and alert.
If there is a multistate foodborne illness outbreak, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) serves as the lead coordinator. You can follow these outbreaks and the investigations on the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/outbreaks/
According to the FDA website, they only seek publicity about a recall when they believe the public needs to be alerted to a serious hazard. There are three recall classifications. Class I has the highest risk when the public is at risk for a serious health problem or death including biological pathogens and food allergens. When you look at the list of recalls it’s interesting to note that many of them are related to undeclared allergens, mislabeling or foreign matter in the food. Not all are recalls are linked to foodborne illness pathogens.
It is wise to protect yourself—pay attention to food recalls and check your refrigerator, freezer and pantry for these products.
The foodsafety.gov site lists recent as well as archives older recalls. There has been nothing since last year on cheese. I guess it just takes that long for some of these posts to get around.
It’s always worth a double check before pressing that “share” button spreading fear to your family, friends, students and clients!
Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University