Deirdre Schlunegger, Stop Foodborne Illness
Food Safety Culture Club

How We Use the Word ‘Recall’ Matters

By Deirdre Schlunegger
No Comments
Deirdre Schlunegger, Stop Foodborne Illness

Although an important term in the world of food safety, we need to think about what this term means to consumers.

“Recalls”. This topic got me thinking, what is the literal meaning of recall? So, I looked it up:

Verb

  1. Bring (a fact, event or situation) back into one’s mind, especially so as to recount it to others, remember.
    “I can still vaguely recall being taken to the hospital”
  2. Officially order (someone) to return to a place
    “the Panamanian ambassador was recalled from Peru”

Noun

  1. An act or instance of officially recalling someone or something
    “the recall of the ambassador”
  2. The action or faculty of remembering something learned or experienced.
    “their recall of dreams”

Many people think of FDA when hearing the word “recall”, and many consumers believe that the FDA often or even always orders recalls. In fact, the FDA relies on responsible parties to voluntarily recall food products when a threat exists, but FSMA’s mandatory recall authority allows FDA to mandate a recall only when the criteria under section 423 of the FD&C Act are met.

For most, the word “recall” is all too familiar. We hear it so often that I wonder if we are becoming desensitized to it. Almost daily we hear this item or that item has been recalled due to XXX, allergy, Salmonella, Listeria, foreign matter, and the list goes on. I counted 45 human and three pet food-related recalls just since May 1, 2018—that’s in just 84 days as I write this. So, for consumers (and we are all consumers), how do we hear the word recall and what is our visceral reaction when we hear the word? What actions if any do we take? Does it become too overwhelming? Are we becoming immune from the word? We are required to eat for survival sake and we don’t know if there is a problem with the food we are eating until after it has been recalled. At Stop Foodborne Illness, we send out recall notices every time there is a recall announced, which is typically a few times a week. Recently, a friend asked, “So, do I just quit eating to avoid contamination?”

I wonder if we can start a conversation about the term, how we use it and how to use the word and related action effectively. What does it mean for consumers? Is it only meaningful after the fact? The word and action of the word “prevention” is so much more powerful. Just “food” for thought.

About The Author

Deirdre Schlunegger, Stop Foodborne Illness

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

If you agree to these terms, please click here.