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By extension: All about food recalls
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One of my favorite 4-H contests is the Cookie Contest because I get to taste all the delicious cookies the 4-H’ers make. Several years ago, much to our dismay, we were suddenly confronted with dozens of cookies which could no longer be tasted for judging and had to be discarded. Can you recall what occurred in early 2009?

It was a food recall that was issued on specific brands of peanut butter. Food recalls seem to be making headline news more frequently these days, which can be very alarming to consumers. When a food recall is issued, it means that we should not purchase or consume that product. Sometimes it makes us feel uneasy about our food and food production. But remember, food recalls are not designed to scare us but to inform us.

A food recall is a voluntary action by a manufacturer or distributor to protect the public from products that may cause health problems or possible death. Its purpose is to remove food products from the public when there is reason to believe the products may be contaminated. Food recalls are for specific products from specific producers, processors, manufacturers or distributors.

When a food recall is issued, take a moment and determine if a recalled product is in your home. Surprisingly, studies show that only 60 percent of people actually check their home for recalled products. Recall notices identify which products are being recalled by providing us with the product name, brand or brands (if distributed under various brand names), container codes and container sizes. For example the recent shell egg recall asked consumers to look at the carton to identify the brand name, the plant number and the Julian date. To date the eggs being recalled were packaged under 16 brand names and the plant number and the Julian date are found on the end of the egg carton.

If you find the recalled food product in your home, follow the recommended procedures for disposal of the product. Dispose of the product carefully. In the case of the shell eggs, we were advised to throw them away or return them to the retailer for a refund.

Make sure that the recalled product can’t be distributed to others such as a food bank. Never use the recalled food products for pets. Don’t puncture or open recalled canned products. Don’t dispose of food unnecessarily — remember the recall of one product doesn’t mean all forms of that product are a potential problem. Always wash your hands and surfaces with warm water and soap after contact with the product.

Pay attention to food recalls and follow the recommendations given. For more information on food recalls call the Rockdale County Cooperative Extension office at (770) 278-7373 or visit us at

Cindee Sweda is the Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent.