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How Is a Recall Different from a Market Withdrawal?

It seems like Floridians hear about recalls constantly on products from food to toys to cars and more. Sometimes, however, when a product is taken off the shelves by a manufacturer, it’s called a “market withdrawal.” What’s the difference?

An interesting case took place just last month when Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. removed some of its packaged salads and greens due to possible Listeria contamination at one of its processing sites. The products reportedly sickened people in both the U.S. and Canada, and killed one person in each country.

The action by the company was classified on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website as “temporarily suspending operations at its Springfield, Ohio production facility, and voluntarily withdrawing from the market” the products in question. However, the Canadian Public Health website said that the company was “recalling various pre-packaged chopped salads, salad blends and kits, and leafy green products from the marketplace due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.”

As consumers, what do we need to know about the difference in classification and language when a product is taken off the shelves? Are there clear guidelines?

According to the FDA, a “market withdrawal” is when there’s a minor violation that isn’t subject to legal action by the agency. The company takes the product out of the marketplace and/or corrects the problem.

There are three classes of recalls, with Class I being the most serious. Recalls are labeled Class I when there’s a reasonable probability that the product will cause serious health consequences or even death. Recalls can be initiated voluntarily by a company. They may also be done at the request or order of the FDA.

An issue with Chobani yogurt a few years back was also labeled as a “market withdrawal.” Reportedly, there were “quality concerns surrounding certain products, which were experiencing swelling or bloating.” In a recent opinion piece in “Food Safety News,” one personal injury lawyer wrote, “A market withdrawal’ has no place in the world of food contamination.”

The important thing is that any product that is contaminated or has a defect that can cause harm is removed from the market immediately and that consumers are notified about the issue. This notification can also help consumers and medical professionals identify the source of an illness. Regardless of the language used to describe the action taken by the manufacturer, consumers should pay attention to the details of the product issue.

Source: Food Safety Tech, “Market Withdrawal Vs. Recall: What’s the Difference?,” Bill Marler, accessed Feb. 19, 2016

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