USDA may name retailers in meat recalls

Mar 7, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – To help consumers identify meat and poultry products that are being recalled because of contamination or some other hazard, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing to publish the names of retail stores that have carried the products.

"We believe that publishing a list of retail establishments that have received products subject to recall will help consumers more easily determine if they purchased recalled product," USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond said in a USDA news release.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has long published detailed information about recalled meat and poultry products, often including pictures, but it has not listed retail stores that sold the items.

Consumer groups and some state officials have urged the publication of information on where recalled meat and poultry products have been shipped or distributed, arguing that this would make recalls more effective, the FSIS said in a Federal Register notice about the proposal.

In the past the FSIS considered the names of businesses that handled recalled products to be confidential, officials said. Now, however, the agency has decided it has the authority to release the names of retail stores that have sold recalled products.

Further, the agency now buys the argument that naming the stores will make recalls more effective. "While FSIS [now] includes in its press release the production code of the product recalled, and will in many cases post a picture of the recalled product's label, it is often the case that more product and often different product is returned than is actually recalled," the Federal Register notice says. "Therefore, FSIS believes that this proposal, if adopted, would improve the efficiency of the recall process and address consumer groups and State officials' concerns."

The agency said it plans to hold a public meeting on the proposal at a time and place to be announced later. In addition, it will accept comments on the proposal until May 5. (See the news release below for details on where to submit comments.)

See also:

Mar 7 FSIS news release

Federal Register notice on the proposed rule

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