The food safety and surveillance system in the United States is a combination of federal, state and local efforts. Federal governing bodies create regulations that are implemented at a state and local level. Groups such as the Food and Drug Administration monitor products for safety and organize recalls of unsafe products.
Who Is Responsible for Safe Food?
Ultimately, every food manufacturer, distributor, retailer and food preparer is legally responsible for the safety of the food in America. The government establishes standards for food handling through dozens of federal agencies, multiple House and Senate committees, and 35 food safety statutes. The food production industry is required to obey these laws regarding food preparation correct food labeling. Failure to do so can produce unsafe food products for which food processors, shippers or retailers can be held legally liable.
Why Is Food Recalled?
Food products are recalled to protect consumers. Food that is dangerous due to contamination or mislabeling needs to be removed from the marketplace to prevent serious illness or injury to consumers. Frequently private companies will voluntarily submit to a recall if their products have been deemed unsafe. However, a government agency can force a recall if a company does not volunteer to do so on its own.
There are three types of recalls for dangerous products:
- A Class I recall means a reasonable probability exists that eating the food in question would have serious health consequences or death;
- A Class II recall indicates a potential health hazard or a remote possibility of negative health consequences, such as a temporary or medically reversible condition; and
- A Class III recall involves food products that will not cause health problems if consumed.
If a Class I recall is initiated, the manufacturing or food producing company, along with government agencies, make a large public effort to remove the food from the market and inform consumers that it is not safe.
How Do I Report Unsafe Food?
It is important for consumers to become educated about recalled products, and to participate in informing the FDA of potential safety issues. If you have become sick after eating a product it is important to report all of the details of the incident as soon as possible. According to the FDA, the following information is necessary:
- Product codes or other identifying marks on the food container;
- The name and address of the store where the food was purchased, as well as the date purchased;
- The name and address of the company on the product label.
You should also keep the product packaging and labels and report the problem to the product manufacturer and the store where the food was purchased.
There are several good websites you can use to stay updated on any food and product recalls. I recommend checking the following sites regularly and to be an informed consumer for the safety of you and your family.
If you or a loved one has become seriously ill or injured as the result of dangerous food, you may have a claim against the manufacturer or producer who has a legal responsibility to produce safe products. Contact food poisoning attorney Ty Wilson at 888-689-5224.