Advice for dealing with food-related recalls

Jeff Kleinman
Miami Herald (TNS)

You just found out that the cookies in your cookie jar have been recalled.

What does that mean? And what should you do?

That depends on the reason for the recall by the cookie company or the federal food agency.

Here’s a quick guide on what you, the consumer, should do if a product in your possession has been recalled:

Undeclared ingredients

Some food recalls are issued because the ingredient list doesn’t match the ingredients inside the product.

If you have a food allergy, that can be dangerous, especially when undeclared ingredients include eggs or nuts. And for vegans, undeclared dairy or eggs can affect health, mental well-being or ethical values.

If you are allergic to undeclared ingredients, or someone in your household is, you should toss the product or return it to the store for a refund or exchange.

If you aren’t affected by an undeclared ingredient, the product is fine to eat, so enjoy.

Non-food in your food

If food in your fridge or pantry has been recalled because material that isn’t food was found in other batches, beware. You don’t want to eat anything that could possibly put you at risk. Crunching glass or plastic, and possibly swallowing it, isn’t fun or good for your teeth or gut.

So this is the type of recall you should act on. Return the product to the business for a refund.

Bacteria alert

Now this is when to really pay attention. You don’t want to put yourself at risk of getting sick, so if you see a recall that involves salmonella or E. coli, don’t fool around: Toss the product or return it to the store.

Remember that even if a store has pulled an item from the shelves after a recall involving bacteria, it can still be in your fridge or pantry.

Most at risk for the worst effects of salomella are older people, children under 5 and those with damaged immune systems. Most people get fever, vomiting, stomachaches and diarrhea after eating tainted food, symptoms that can run for four to seven days.

How to check if there’s a recall

You’ll need to do a little work to keep up with recalls. But here’s some help on where to go:

U.S. Food & Drug Administration’ safety alert page.

U.S. Department of Agriculture health alerts page.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall page.

Publix recall page.

Walmart recall page.

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