When danger lurks in the grocery aisles, call the Recaller

Deciphering recall information is tough for the regular consumer.

Automated phone calls to shoppers have been appreciated. Pictures of products have also helped to clear things up.

But it seems that retailers need some assistance accessing and utilizing recall information to better aide consumers.

Recalled products were found on grocery and convenience store shelves after:
Salmonella bacteria were discovered in Veggie Booty snacks,
botulinum toxin was found in Castleberry’s chili,
Topps meat was recalled due to E. coli contamination,
Listeria monocytogenes was detected in Maple Leaf deli meats, and
dairy products were found to contain melamine.

Growing up, my brother Skyler had an awesome Batman alarm clock. When it was time to get up, the Bat-Signal would shine on the ceiling and a voice would say, “Gotham City is in trouble; call for Batman!” It was a great call to action.

I think the citizens need another hero: The Recaller.

Along with a handful of producers, some grocery retailers have specialized personnel on staff to manage food safety issues.

Barry Parsons
fills that role for the three Stauffers supermarkets in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

When he gets news of a recall, Parsons says,

"Twenty minutes to a half an hour and it’s off the shelf."

POW. BAM. WHAP. The threat is negated.

My bother Jesse (currently a third grader) found a hero in Spiderman.

All the aforementioned recalls have shown that the production and distribution of food today has the power to reach and—positively or adversely—affect many, many people. And you know what Uncle Ben says about great power….

"There’s a lot of responsibility being in the food business," Parsons said. "I really care about this.

"Because it could be a child. I’ve had children myself. Imagine if your child got sick. How would you feel as a parent? The elderly — they’re susceptible. My parents are in their 80s. That really hits me."

That’s what I see as a culture of food safety.

The superhero I favored was a good guy from Kansas: Superman.

(At right: Dean Cain’s costume from ‘Lois and Clark’ was on display alongside old mining equipment and [representative] boxes of stored film reels at the  Kansas Underground Salt Museum when Bret took me last year.)

The Pennsylvania Recaller says of his position,

"You’ve really got to be dedicated to it, and you’ve really got to have a sense of caring.

"You’ve got to say, ‘No matter what’s going to happen, I’m going to make sure my customers are safe, my employers are safe.’

"This is not something I do as a job. It’s just what I do. It’s who I am."