Bill to give USDA mandatory recall authority

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – Building on some federal lawmakers' support of a single food-safety agency, US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is proposing additional legislation that would give the US Department of Agriculture mandatory recall authority over meat, poultry and some egg products. 

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Under the proposed legislation, USDA can recommend a voluntary recall in the event of a foodborne illness outbreak or the detection of pathogens in meat, poultry and egg products. If a retailer, manufacturer, distributor or importer refuses, then the Secretary of Agriculture would have the authority to issue a mandatory recall and notify affected processors, packers, retail outlets and consumers. Penalties could be assessed for refusal to comply with a recall.

The Meat and Poultry Notification Act also would "encourage" retailers to use shopper loyalty card information to notify customers who may have purchased a recalled product. Finally, the act calls for a one-page "Recall Summary Notice" to be displayed at points of sale or on store shelves where an affected product was sold.

“We need to make sure that if dangerous food does end up at the grocery store that it gets recalled, pulled off the shelf and out of freezers faster,” Sen. Gillibrand said in a statement. “Every time you swipe a loyalty card to save a few cents, the grocery store makes a record of what food you’re bringing home. When a recall happens, stores should use that information to call and email people to tell them to not eat the food they have purchased.”

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