Food recalls help keep supplies safe Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 February 2017
By Capt. Crystal Doyle
 Special to GUIDON

 Did you know there are hundreds of food recalls every year in the United States?

 Food recalls happen when a determination is made that a product has the potential to cause an adverse health effect. The food supply chain is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration along with a section of the United States Department of Agriculture called the Food Safety and Inspection Service.  These agencies oversee manufacturing processes, ensuring proper food safety and food defense procedures are being followed. Most recalls are voluntary and initiated by the company that has made the product, but if a company refuses to recall the affected food item, legal action can be taken.  
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Doyle

 Recalls usually occur for one of three reasons: contamination, adulteration or misbranding. Growth from bacteria species such as Listeria, Salmonella or E. coli can cause contamination and are usually a sign of inadequate sanitation or cross-contamination in the facility. Adulteration can happen when set standards are not met, such as adding another substance to a food to increase the quantity while decreasing the quality. It can also occur when an employee purposely places a harmful item into the product. Misbranding often  happens when allergens are not properly declared on food labels.

 There are three classes of recalls: Class I, Class II and Class III.  Class I recalls are the most severe, in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death. Class II recalls mean there is a remote probability of health consequences from eating the affected food, and Class III recall products will not cause adverse health consequences if eaten.

 On Army installations, Veterinary Food Inspection Specialists (MOS 68R) help identify any recalls that have been issued through the ALFOODACT system. Once a notification is received, the Soldiers contact all facilities that use, store or sell food products to ensure that they do not have the affected item. If a food item that has been recalled is found, then it is placed on medial hold to either be sent back to the company or destroyed.

 Recall procedures exist to help keep potentially harmful food away from you, the consumer. Both federal agencies and local Soldiers help enforce these recalls.  Recent recalls and food safety resources can be found at www.foodsafety.gov/recalls.  Always be sure to report any abnormalities in your food product to the company, as this important information could even initiate a recall that will help keep others safe.

 (Editor’s note: Doyle is  a veterinarian at Fort Leonard Wood Veterinarian Services.)