ROSEMONT, IL (Sept. 18)—Foodservice managers must be prepared to respond to the growing number of food recalls and to prevent food-borne illnesses from affecting their clients. To respond to this critical need, the Assisted Living Association of Alabama included a briefing on food recalls by Jorge Hernandez, senior vice president, food safety and quality assurance for U.S. Foodservice, at its recent 2009 Fall Conference in Mobile.
"The number of Class I food recalls in 2009 has already increased nearly ten-fold compared with all of 2006," Hernandez said. He explained that the FDA defines a Class I recall as a situation in which the food in question has a reasonable probability to cause serious adverse health consequences or death.
Hernandez explained that the number of Class I recalls has increased exponentially due to a number of factors, including the fact that the number of available food items has more than doubled in the past decade; improved science is able to identify micro-organisms at a much lower level; the Centers for Disease Control can now trace foodborne illnesses faster and more accurately; and a higher level of consumer and regulatory awareness through increased media reporting of recalls and outbreaks.
"The good news for healthcare foodservice managers is that leading food distributors also have increased their ability to identify suspected products and communicate recall information to their customers," Hernandez said. With that information, he said, "Managers must quickly determine if they have received recalled products and segregate these products in their storerooms and kitchens to prevent them from being prepared and served. Most important, persons who think they may have become ill from eating the recalled products must consult their health care providers immediately," he said.