In a policy shift, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schaferhas announced that beginning in August (2008), the USDA will begin listing retail stores that have received meat and poultry products involved in Class I recalls – those of the most serious concern to public health.
“The identity of retail stores with recalled meat and poultry from their suppliers has always been a missing piece of information for the public during a recall,” said Schafer. “People want to know if they need to be on the lookout for recalled meat and poultry from their local store and by providing lists of retail outlets during recalls, USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service will improve public health protection by better informing consumers.”
USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) will post a list of retail stores that receive products subject to Class I recalls on its web site at www.fsis.usda.gov, generally within three to ten business days of issuing the recall release. A Class I recall is one that involves a reasonable probability of serious health consequences or death for those with weakened immune systems. Retail stores include supermarkets or other grocery stores, convenience stores, meat markets, wholesale clubs and supercenters. FSIS will not identify distribution centers, institutions or restaurants, since they prepare food for immediate consumption without packaging that is identifiable or available to consumers.
The list of retail stores and locations compiled by FSIS personnel during this process will also be shared with State and local public health officials where the retail stores are located.
Recall announcements from FSIS always include the name of the establishment recalling the meat or poultry, the reason for the recall, a description of the recalled product, any identifying product codes, the recall classification and contact information at FSIS and the company involved. The additional information releasing the names of retail stores receiving recalled meat and poultry is being implemented to improve the consumers’ ability to identify and discard or return the products they may have purchased and may still have in their home by checking the list of stores and locations.