Comments to the Food Safety Inspection Service about proposal to make public the names of the stores involved in meat recalls

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Consumers Union
Comments to United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service on Docket No. 04-006P,
Availability of Lists of Retail Consignees During Meat or Poultry Product Recalls
April 28, 2006

Introduction/Summary
Consumers Union (CU), the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, appreciates the opportunity to comment on Docket No. 04-006P, “Availability of Lists of Retail Consignees During Meat or Poultry Product Recalls.”
We commend the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for proposing to inform the public, via publication of a list on the internet, about the names and locations of stores where meat or poultry that have been voluntarily recalled have been sold. As with any recalled product, the consumer has an absolute right to know where such products are sold prior to the recall. As USDA notes, making such information public allows consumers to determine if they have purchased any of the recalled meat or poultry products, so that they can return the product to where they bought it or dispose of it.
While we applaud USDA for proposing this rule, we think USDA’s proposal does not go far enough and is vague on certain crucial details. First, USDA should make available the names and locations not only of retail stores (referred to by USDA as “retail consignees”) where meat and poultry products are sold, but also of hotels, restaurants and institutions—such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc.—that have received recalled meat and poultry products that are later recalled. Consumers especially need to be notified if recalled meat and poultry products have been delivered to institutions (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc.) and are later recalled. Such places often have populations that cannot fully protect themselves. For example, if a mother knew that meat or poultry products that were later recalled had been delivered to the elementary school attended by her daughter, the mother could contact the school to find out how much recalled product was delivered and whether any of it remained at the school.
For the full comments, click here (PDF format).