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Staying Safe: How to Keep Up with Food Recalls in Arizona


Recent incidents of contaminated food items, including lead-tainted applesauce affecting 500 children and Salmonella-infected cantaloupe causing 400 illnesses and six deaths nationwide, have raised significant concerns among Arizona residents. According to the "Food for Thought 2024" report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, food and beverage recalls have surged by 8% in 2023 through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), reaching the highest levels since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the majority of food consumed in Arizona remains safe, these alarming figures highlight the importance of vigilance in monitoring food safety. Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog Director for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, emphasizes the need for food producers and packagers to prioritize cleanliness, thorough inspections, and accurate labeling to prevent such hazards.

In response to these concerns, Murray offers practical tips to help Arizonans stay informed about food recalls and protect their families:

  1. Check with Your Grocery Store: Visit the customer service counter or call your grocery store to inquire about their recall notification methods. Many stores offer automated calls, texts, or emails to customers with loyalty cards, along with in-store signage about recalls.
  2. Choose Stores Wisely: Opt for shopping at stores known for their effective recall notification policies. This is crucial for families with severe allergies, young children, pregnant women, elderly, or immunocompromised individuals who are more susceptible to foodborne illnesses.
  3. Use Technology to Your Advantage: Download the Food Recalls & Alerts app (available on Apple and Android devices) to receive real-time notifications on your phone. This app allows you to customize alerts based on the severity of recalls or specific types of products, including pet food.
  4. Stay Informed through Social Media: Follow official accounts such as @FDArecalls and @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter (formerly known as X) for up-to-date information on food safety.
  5. Report Problems: If you encounter a food safety issue, report it immediately. For meat, poultry, fish, and egg products, contact the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 or file a complaint online here. For other food items, reach out to the FDA's Emergency Number at 1-866-300-4374 or file a complaint here. Issues with restaurant food should be reported to your local health department.

By taking these proactive steps, Arizonans can significantly reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses and ensure that their meals are not only delicious but also safe. Awareness and prompt action can make a substantial difference in safeguarding the health of your family.

Written by Teresa Murray, the Consumer Watchdog Director for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and author of the Food for Thought 2024 report.

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Sunday, 21 July 2024

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