Consumer advocates allege some supermarkets failing to warn public about food recalls

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A scathing report has come out Wednesday involving the safety of the food we eat. Consumer advocates allege some supermarkets are failing to warn the public about food recalls. A scorecard by the Public Interest Research Group gives many chains a failing grade when it comes to warning customers about hazardous food.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates every year 48-million Americans contract a foodborne illness resulting in 128,000 people being hospitalized.

Dr. Robin Brehm of Nemours Pediatrics says, "I've seen these illnesses in my patients before and I'd like to see more transparency in the process for the families I care for."

The consumer advocacy group, PIRG, says grocery stores should be consumers' best recall notification system.

Emma Horst-Martz of the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group says, "But instead, we've learned consumers must go on a nearly impossible scavenger hunt to learn if they've purchased contaminated food.

Public Interest Research Group

PIRG took a look at the recall policies for 26 of the nation's largest supermarkets, including in-store and direct customer notification programs.

The consumer advocacy group did not look at all the big chains in our area but did give an F to 84% of the supermarkets it did score.

Numa St. Louis, the district representative for Congressman Dwight Evans' office says, "Grocery stores need to be much more transparent and aggressive in terms of relaying that information to consumers."

But the National Grocers Association says companies have improved on the recall response time and on the communication, "meaning products are pulled from the shelves faster."

The association released this statement to Action News:

"The U.S. food supply is the safest in the world, and independent grocers have a longstanding commitment to ensuring a secure food supply chain, which includes trained staff, technology and standards. Over the past decade companies have improved upon the recall response time, as has the communication between the various actors in the supply chain, meaning products are pulled from the shelves faster, or in many instances the product is stopped in the supply chain and never even makes it onto the shelves. Retailers remain hyper focused on food safety and continue to employ standards and technology to respond to recalls in the most effective and efficient manner."

Meantime, if you're concerned, sign up to get online recall alerts directly from the USDA and the FDA.

The following chains released these statements to Action News in response to the Public Interest Research Group's survey:


"We take product recalls very seriously. Food Lion has robust food safety programs and we use several proactive methods of notifying customers of recalls including issuing press releases for private brand items in the Class I categories, posting information to our website, and email notification to our loyalty card customers, among other ways of keeping customers informed."


"We do not participate in any surveys - including PIRG. When a recall occurs, we use our Shoppers Club data to contact customers who have purchased the recalled product by phone. We also notify the media of any Wegmans brand product recalls by issuing a press release."
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