Mark A. Simon
Food Recalls Explained by Your Local Personal Injury Attorney
In 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had more than 130 reported food recalls, totaling over 20 million pounds of food. Recalls can be announced after meat, vegetables, boxed food, and other impacted, causing at times deadly illnesses in those who consume them. As a consumer, it is important for you to practice proper food safety when you cook and pay attention to see if any foods you have purchased have been recalled. In the event you are negatively impacted by a recall, you can count on your local personal injury attorney to help you gain any compensation that you deserve.
Basics on Food Recalls
Food recalls are announced when a food manufacturer or distribution company discovers a problem or potential problem with their product. Once a food has been recalled, it is announced, and stores should immediately remove it from their shelves to prevent others from buying and consuming the dangerous product. Recalling a food is a voluntary act by the manufacturer or distribution company, but there can be consequences if a company fails to act and illnesses and deaths have been reported. The Food Safety and Inspection Service can intervene and investigate the food in question in order to protect consumers. In addition, food can be recalled if there is a mistake in the label, failure to label top allergens, the risk of contamination, and more.
To learn about the latest, you can see recent recalls at FoodSafety.gov.
Three Types of Food Recall Classifications
Food recalls are categorized into three different classifications, based on their level of risk they pose to a person.
- Class I: These are the most dangerous of recalls. The chances of a person experiencing serious health issues or even death are highly likely.
- Class II: The threat level is somewhat higher, under a Class II recall. It poses a moderate risk for those who consume any of the potentially affected food.
- Class III: The Class III recall is used in scenarios where a person will not have negative health effects because of the food recall. For instance, this could be for a mislabeling on the nutrition label on serving sizes.
Most Common Reasons for Recalls
Recalls occur for a variety of reasons but there are a few common reasons manufacturers and food producers make the call.
First is the mislabeling of food allergens. There are eight common food allergens that must be identified on food labels: peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, eggs, soybeans, and milk. It is mandatory for all food producers to label a product noting if they have one of these allergens or are made in a facility with them if they indeed contain one of these eight foods. Because of the severe allergies many Americans have, people rely on nutrition labels when they make their decisions about what foods to buy. A recall should happen when a product may be missing an allergen it contains.
The second most common reason for food recalls is pathogens. Pathogens are viruses, parasites or bacteria that contaminate food, causing food poisoning or even death. The most common reason for these pathogens to occur is cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when a person preps an item, then does not wash their hands or utensils before moving onto another. For instance, when cooking raw poultry, before moving on to another item, it is imperative for a person to wash their hands and all utensils that were touched by the raw poultry. A few of the most common types of pathogens include:
- Salmonella: This type of pathogen is common when mishandling raw products or undercooked eggs. It can also arise in unpasteurized dairy, fruit, and vegetables. Avoiding cross-contamination and cooking foods to temperature help avoid salmonella.
- E. coli: Fully known as Escherichia coli, dangerous strains of this bacteria is common in undercooked meat and unpasteurized dairy.
- Clostridium perfringens: Common in large servings of food, such as trays on a buffet or a large dish, this type of pathogen relates to food safe temperatures. When a certain food has sat out for too long, it loses temperature. When it reaches the “danger zone,” 40 degrees to 140 degrees, this bacterium can appear and spread quickly.
The third most common reason for recalls is items left in food. For instance, if a food prep facility accidentally spills plastic or other non-food items into a package, it is best to recall it at once.
Proper Protocol of Stores
Once a recall is announced, a food retailer is legally required to remove all instances of a product as soon as possible. No matter what the serial number of the affected foods say, all instances must be removed. This means a retailer must take the food off the shelves and ensure anything in storage does not make it available for sale. Failure to do so can lead to fines or lawsuits brought on by anyone that consumes the recalled food. Retailers should have a protocol in place that is common knowledge amongst all employee to ensure the safety of consumers.
Involving a Lawyer if Affected
If a person sustains a foodborne illness due to the consumption of a recalled food, they may be able to sue for damages. This will help with all medical bills that have piled up or pain and suffering. A premier lawyer can also help in wrongful death suits, too. Depending on the recall, a person may be able to sue the manufacturer or food distributor to get compensation for damages. From losing pay to medical bills, a lawyer will spend quality time with you to assess your situation and help you take your next steps.
As you are considering the reasons to hire a Denver personal injury attorney for your case, Mark A. Simon attorney at law is your go-to for all your food recall questions. If you have consumed food on a recall, contact our offices to see how we can help. There may be compensation to help you ease the burden of medical bills and other issues that have risen. Get started and contact us today.