Food Safety News - Iowa State University Extension

Does The “No Illnesses” Language Belong in Recall Notices?


Dan Flynn

Food companies that are voluntarily recalling a product usually use the language suggested by regulatory agencies that is then distributed electronically via the federal government websites. Recalls not connected to outbreaks almost always contain a line saying there are no reported illnesses associated with the recalled product. William E. Keene, Oregon’s senior state epidemiologist, thinks it’s time for reporters and editors to “not let themselves be duped into amplifying press release boilerplate.” Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have templates for companies to use when writing a recall announcement. They are: FDA: ”No illnesses have been reported to date.” FSIS: “There have been no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products.”

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