One of the great mysteries in our food supply is what food companies do with the products they so-called "voluntarily" recall (a note of sarcasm here - read: "That the FDA or USDA makes them recall."). I have heard and read all kinds of stories, and more-of-less reliable reports: it is buried, it is shipped overseas, it is used as fertilizer, it goes into animal feed (including pet food)...and it is recycled - to us.
But before I go any further, I want to say that there are some very ethical food companies that are truly concerned about their clients' welfare and make double sure that any "bad" products of theirs that have unfortunately got into the food supply, will never get in again. I am sure that the owner of the clover sprouts company that I spoke to the other day falls into this category. So do some others.
However... there are also the other kind. Their thinking seems to go more or less like this: "This recall is costing us a bundle. What we need to do is find a way to reduce the costs. Maybe we can just send these returned products back to customers and no one - including the FDA and the USDA - will be any the wiser. All we need to do is just repackage them, with a different label and/or different code, and off they go. Easy... "
Impossible? Not at all. It happens. If you read my recalls alerts about a year ago, you would have seen that a California nut distributor recycled its potentially contaminated and recalled almonds under a different (and very healthy-sounding) brand name - and, sent them right back into the marketplace. And today, well, another instance. This one was caught by U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS), which is charged with the safety of our meat products in the United States. As a result of customer complaints about smelly and off-color meat products (note..not routine inspection) it found that One Great Burger, of Elizabeth, N.J., had repackaged and recoded their returned burgers and
sent them out for further distribution to institutional customers. Yummy....What's this about a "great burger"?
Also, you can bet that for all the cases caught, there are hundreds of others that slip through the net.