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What Are Foods Recalls?

Food recalls are very common. Food recalls occur when there is some type of reason to believe that the product or food that was manufactured and sent out to the public is defective and may cause illness to consumers. Usually the entire stock of food gets recalled back to the manufacturer. Food recalls are usually done by the manufacturer or distributor after they have received complaints from consumers about the food being defective or when the U.S Department of Agriculture request that the food be recalled.

Food recalls would be described best as anything that would cause illness and may be misleading to consumers.

When Do Food Recalls Occur?

Food recalls occur for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Food is causing some type of safety concern
  • The food is contaminated or defective
  • The food is mislabeled and can cause confusion
  • Missing warning signs
  • Food was improperly packaged

What Are the Different Food Recall Classifications?

  • Class I – There is a strong chance that eating the food product would cause serious health problems or even death; for example, the food has been contaminated with e-coli or other dangerous bacteria. 
  • Class II – There is a strong chance that the food may cause illness. The illness is not critical or serious, but may cause stomach problems or mild sickness.
  • Class III – The food probably will not cause illness, but there is a small possibility or the food is just mislabeled

Who Regulates Food Safety?

Food safety in the US is regulated by the following government agencies

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
  • Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
  • State agencies in every state

Who Decides to Recall Food, and Why?

Food manufacturers and distributors voluntarily recall food when there is reason to believe the food is contaminated or mislabeled.  If the manufacturers and distributors refuse to initiate a voluntary recall, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) can detain suspicious meat and poultry products.

What Foods Have Been Recalled?

Thousands of food products have been recalled.  Recently, these have included: 

  • Frozen Dumplings (contained glass)
  • Beef Jerky (possible Listeria contamination)
  • Ground Beef (possible E. Coli contamination)
  • Fruit & Nut Trail Mix Granola Bars (possible Salmonella contamination)
  • Dried Potatoes (containing undeclared sulfites)

Can I Sue If a Food Recalled Made Me Sick?

Food-related lawsuits are common, but they are highly dependent on state laws as well as the type of claim involved.  Food companies are bound by various health and sanitation laws, and have an obligation to ensure that consumers receive food that conforms to or exceeds health standards.

If you have been the victim of food poisoning or injury due to a recalled food, you may be able to sue the food manufacturer or distributor. You may be able to seek compensation for medical bills, wages lost during your illness and recovery, pain and suffering and, in extreme cases, wrongful death. In many cases, a plaintiff may be awarded monetary damages to be compensated for the loss or injury if they become sick because of eating food that was recalled.

Do I Need a Lawyer for my Food Recall Issue?

If you wish to pursue a lawsuit for injuries and illnesses resulting from a recalled food product, you may wish to speak with a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will be able to help you understand your rights and options, as well as help you deal with the complicated legal system.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 03-16-2018 01:56 AM PDT

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