How to respond to product recalls

(Photo from The Alabama Cooperative Extension)

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Product recalls are unpredictable and can be a hazard to you or your family. Staying up to date on the latest news regarding contaminated foods, drugs and other products can help prevent health concerns.

Where should I start?

According to Alabama Cooperative Extension System Regional Agent Janet Johnson, the first step when responding to a product recall is checking to see if you own that product.

Typically, the issuing company will list the item and give specific information pertaining to it. This may include the name of the product as well as specific lot numbers. These numbers allow for the identification of which plant or factory the product is from.

“If a consumer has the specific product, discontinue its use and discard it,” said Johnson, who works in the food safety and quality program area. “Depending on the recalled item, some products may have an extended shelf life. So, don’t think it could just be a recently produced or purchased product.”

Recall Resources

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website contains an online database ( of recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts of all FDA-regulated products. This list updates frequently and can search products by name brand and type. For any product with a longer shelf life, consumers may access this archive. This journal helps with any recalls that go into an archive after three years and are no longer available on the FDA website.

What’s next?

After discarding the product, Johnson says it is imperative to clean and sanitize any surfaces that might have come in contact with the contaminated product. This practice will ensure that future persons or items will not be subject to contamination as well.

If you or someone in your household exhibit any diagnosed symptoms after eating or using a recalled product, contact your health care provider.

Can I get a refund?

Most products that are FDA-regulated are subject to a refund for a consumer. Major grocery stores, wholesale chains and the original production company typically refund purchases of eligible products.

Consumers can acquire refunds via website reclaim forms from the producer or at customer service counters at participating stores. Calling the original store or visiting the company website is the easiest way to find out if there is a potential refund.

Play it Safe

Product recalls of any kind should be in consumer consideration, as they could potentially impact your health. Therefore, educate yourself, as well as others, on all federal recalls while monitoring food and drug safety.

For more information on food product safety, visit: