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State Agriculture Department announces updated food product recall book for food businesses


Mon, Dec 18th 2023 03:55 pm

Provides New York retail food stores, food manufacturers, food businesses with protocol to use during product recall

√ Department also updates food safety alert process to increase consumer awareness of recalled products

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ division of food safety and inspection announced it has updated its food product recall book to provide New York retail food stores, food manufacturers and food businesses with “an easy-to-follow protocol to use should they need to initiate a product recall at their facility.”

Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Ag and Markets issue recalls or consumer alerts about potentially harmful food products affecting the New York state marketplace, making it “critically important that the stores selling or businesses manufacturing the food product understand what triggers a recall and what actions they should take to ensure harmful products do not reach consumers,” the press release noted. “Most recently, FDA issued a major, multistate recall for certain applesauce pouches for children that contained high levels of lead. The department has been assisting FDA’s efforts by inspecting hundreds of retail stores across New York to verify the products are no longer being sold in the state.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Cooperation between retail food stores and food businesses and the department has proven to be very effective and efficient in removing potentially harmful products from the market. The work of our divisions of food safety and inspection, milk control and dairy services, and food laboratory provides a vital service that is critical in maintaining the safety of the food supply from producer to the retailer. These updates will not only help our staff with their goals, but will also ensure our businesses and our consumers are more informed.”

The updated guidance, first revised in 2007, includes two new appendices that list the contaminants that may initiate a recall in the state, as well as the step-by-step process the department follows when initiating a recall in and outside of New York state.

A food business as defined in the guidance document is one that stores, manufacturers, distributes and/or sells food in the state of New York and is licensed, registered, and/or inspected by the department’s division of food safety and inspection.

In addition, as a result of the applesauce pouches recall and in an effort to increase consumer awareness of the foods that have been recalled and removed from the market, the department has updated its consumer alert process. Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, the department will now list all class I and class II recalls on its website. All food safety alerts will be found at https://agriculture.ny.gov/food-safety-alerts. A class I recall is triggered when contamination in the product will cause serious adverse health consequences, while a class II recall goes into effect when contamination in the product may cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote. Before this update, the department issued food safety consumer alerts only for class I recalls or if an organization could not issue their own press release for a class I recall. 

The department’s division of food safety and inspection and division of milk control and dairy services initiate approximately 300 class I and II recalls annually. Most of these recalls begin with an observation by a food inspector or a dairy products specialist. Samples of food and beverage products are sent to the department's food laboratory for testing and confirmation of any issues related to adulteration and/or misbranding.

A food may be recalled because of contamination from microorganisms, such as bacteria or viruses; the presence of foreign objects, such as broken glass or fragments of metal or plastic; or failure to list a major allergen in the food, such as peanuts or shellfish, on the product label. Food recalls are usually voluntarily initiated by the manufacturer or distributor of the food. In some situations, the department and/or the FDA may request, or mandate a recall.

The press release noted, “The department strongly encourages consumers to report any symptoms of a foodborne illness to their health care provider, and encourages food businesses to work with their food safety inspector or dairy products specialist at the department if they have specific questions about initiating a recall.”

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