A food recall can occur when there is reason to believe that a food may cause consumers to become ill. A food manufacturer or distributor will initiate the recall to remove the foods off the market. Sometimes food recalls are requested by government agencies such as the FDA or USDA. Food that is recalled will be handled according to manufacturer’s instructions and regulatory guidelines.

Some of the reasons a food may be recalled could be: a potential undeclared allergen in a food product; the discovery of an organism in a product which may make consumers sick; or mislabeling or misbranding of food.

In a food service operation, the food service manager should be responsible for handling the food recall notice. The manager will review the food recall notice and the specific instructions that have been identified in the notice.

The following action should take place:

  • Identify and segregate the recalled product. Label the product “Do Not Use” and “Do Not Discard”.
  • If an item is suspected to contain the recalled product, but the label is not available, the product should be discarded.

The manager should inform the administrator of the recall notice and the steps taken. They should then review inventory of the recalled product and the amount used. The manager should complete and maintain required documentation related to the recall including:

  • Recall notice
  • Records of how food product was returned or destroyed
  • Reimbursable costs
  • Public notice, if appropriate
  • Correspondence to and from the public health department, if appropriate
  • Document on a Damaged and Discarded Product Log the name of the contaminated food, product identification code, date, time, and reason why the food was discarded or returned

Food recalls may at times be an inconvenience but they are in place for the protection and safety of the consumer.