Traceability and Recall

traceabilityWhen health officials suspect a foodborne illness, quickly finding the source of contamination is critical.

Contaminated products must be removed from markets and consumers’ kitchens as soon as possible to reduce further illness. However, unless the source is correctly identified, the contaminated product cannot be removed without also needlessly removing similar products that aren’t suspected of causing the illness. That’s why its essential to be able to identify and trace the sources of contaminated products.

If a produce item is suspected of being contaminated, the supplier recalls the product. Although most recalls are voluntary, others are required by government agencies such as the FDA. At the same time as the recall, suppliers generally implement corrective actions to protect consumers from potentially adverse effects of the product.

Recalls not only protect consumers from getting ill, they also protect companies and the industry from economic losses and losses of public confidence. A successful recall requires a company to plan ahead so that they can act fast, communicate effectively, and perform a post-recall assessment. For these reasons, it is important to have a recall plan in place before a recall is needed.

The resources below explain recalls in more detail and outline the key parts of a recall plan. Use them to learn more and develop effective recall plans for specific operations.​ 

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Food Safety Begins on the Farm A Grower Self Assessment of Food Safety RisksLinkCornell University
Farm Food Safety Decision Tree ProjectLinkCornell
Kansas State Food-A-Syst: A Food Safety Risk Management Guide for the ProducerLinkKansas State University
FDA Guide to Produce Farm InvestigationsLinkFDA
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The Food Recall Manual of Florida
FDA Food
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Produce Traceability Traceability Initiative