by Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Prevention Expert
In the United States, consumers use hundreds of products every day, even without realizing it. From household items, to food products, technology, tools, vehicles, and more, Americans are accustomed to using their favorite products as part of their everyday lifestyle.
But when food or products fail, consumers are instantly put at risk and the chance for
skyrockets, as evidenced by this month’s unusual spike in food recalls. While certain avocados and ground turkey products have been recalled, it’s Colorado’s cantaloupe recall that has captured headlines nationwide. Cantaloupes originating from Rocky Ford, distributed by Jensen Farms, were found to have contained
– a dangerous bacteria which can lead to chills, fever, paralyzation, and even death. Of particular risk are pregnant women and the elderly, or those with lower immune systems. Unfortunately, even healthy people can be affected and may need hospitalization to treat a listerosis infection.
Listeria bacteria is transmitted to humans via soil, water, and animal feces or urine. Eating unwashed raw vegetables contaminated with manure, infected meat, unpasteurized products and processed foods like soft cheese, hot dogs and deli meat can all carry listeria bacteria if not handled properly.
It’s no surprise then that many Americans were alarmed after the cantaloupes infected 34 people in 22 states and killing eight others as of Sept. 22,
Jensen Farms immediately issued a recall for the cantaloupes, and the FDA including other health officials warned consumers to dispose of the cantaloupes if purchased. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the listeria outbreak on U.S.-grown cantaloupes was the first of its kind in the United States.
But the truth is that listeria is not an inherent risk to cantaloupes alone, as Kent Lusk, fifth-generation cantaloupe farmer, explains. "This is really silly. You can get Listeria any place. I eat those melons every day," he said.
Nevertheless, the food recall sparked fear in many U.S. consumers as headlines hit newspapers nationwide. Many Americans felt helpless in the face of rising numbers – and for many citizens, the concept of food being recalled caused a sense of urgency to get in-the-know to avoid future recalls altogether. Fortunately, it is fairly easy for consumers to stay up-to-date with foods or products that have failed.
prevention using today’s technology
Useful tools like iPhone apps, email notifications and even Google alerts can help keep consumers safe in the event a product or food recall strikes. Here’s how.
app is a free iPhone application that provides recall information from all 5 government agencies where users can see pictures, descriptions, and company information for all products and foods recalled. Consider installing this application, or choose your favorite, and browse it daily to stay on top of breaking recalls.
Go to Recalls.gov to sign up for recalls on the products you already use. In combination with a recall app of your choice, consumers are now able to stay on top of important recalls. Parents are especially fond of email notifications since they can register products often used by babies and children in the house.
Often times, consumers who use failed products often discuss their unfavorable stories online through various chat forums and websites before the item officially gets recalled. By registering important items like a vehicle’s make and model or baby crib with Google Alerts, you can stay in the know even before a recall hits.
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