Federal law should require ID of stores that sold recalled food, study suggests

COLUMBUS , Ohio -- A newly proposed rule to make meat and poultry recalls more effective is a step in the right direction, says an Ohio State University economist. But Neal Hooker believes even more could be done to protect consumers from food-borne illness from tainted meat.

Hooker, an assistant professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics, revealed in a 2004 study that only about half of recalled meat and poultry is recovered.

To increase those numbers, Hooker suggests in a recently published follow-up paper that the government should publicize the names and locations of grocery stores where the recalled meat has been sold.

That's exactly what the Food Safety and Inspection Service is suggesting with a proposed new rule, announced March 6. The proposal is online at http://www.regulations.gov (search for documents in the Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS). Comments about the proposal are being accepted through May 8. The FSIS also plans to hold a public meeting on the issue during the comment period.

Currently, recalled meat and poultry products are publicized on an FSIS Web site and through press releases in the states where the meat was distributed. Notifications are sent to public health agencies, wholesalers and retailers. However, retail locations where the recalled products have been sold are not listed for public view.

"Right now, no federal agency has the authority to reveal where recalled meat products have been sold, much less tell retailers they need to take steps to inform consumers about a recall," Hooker said. "I do think this proposed rule is a good idea, but it could have gone further." A big step would have been to outline steps grocery stores must take in order to inform consumers when a recall occurs.

The amount of meat and poultry products recalled in the United States has grown from about 6 million pounds in 1988 to abo

Contact: Neal Hooker
Ohio State University

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