You saw in the news that there’s a food recall. Now what?

You saw in the news that there’s a food recall. Now what?

News reports about contamination of various foods come frequently, and sometimes it can be hard to keep track of what’s being recalled for which reasons.

When you see these headlines, what should you do? And how worried do you need to be?

“If you hear about a recall, don’t panic,” says Dr. Robert Citronberg, an infectious disease expert at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

For one thing, he says, the chances are low that any one outbreak of Salmonella or E. coli bacteria will make a person sick. For another, dealing with the outbreak is simple.

Read the news report to figure out what specific product is being recalled, and either throw it out or take it to the store for a refund. If you haven’t eaten it, you’re good.

If you have eaten the affected item, you still shouldn’t panic, Dr. Citronberg says. There’s no need to call a doctor unless you see symptoms that you’re getting sick, like diarrhea. Your doctor can treat you as needed.

There are a couple exceptions, such as if you’re pregnant or have a compromised immune system.

“Then it’s probably a good idea to call your doctor, if only just to let them know,” Dr. Citronberg says.

Here are some tips to avoid Salmonella and other bacteria in everyday life:

  • Cook meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook ground meat until well done.
  • Keep surfaces like countertops clean. If raw food has touched them, clean them.
  • Don’t mix raw and cooked food. For example, don’t put cooked chicken breasts on the same plate that held the raw meat.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly when handling food.

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About the Author

Mike Riopell
Mike Riopell

Mike Riopell, health enews contributor, is a media relations coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked as a reporter and editor covering politics and government for the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Bloomington Pantagraph, among others. He enjoys bicycles, home repair, flannel shirts and being outside.