AUSTIN (Nexstar) — How seriously do supermarkets take food safety notifications when products they sell are recalled?
According to consumer advocacy and education organization Texas Public Research Group Education Fund, not seriously enough.
The group released a new report detailing food safety failures by major supermarket chains including Whole Foods, H-E-B, Trader Joe’s and Walmart.
“We just hope that consumers don’t have to worry about the food that they purchase,” said the group’s director, Bay Scoggin.
“We should see clear signage posted at the stores we shop and that is the simplest easiest form that that stores can do. Say ‘Don’t buy this salmonella contaminated lettuce,’” he explained.
H-E-B was the only major supermarket to respond to a request for comment.
In a statement, a company spokesperson said “Quality and safety of our products is our top priority.”
“All products involved in a health and safety recall are locked at the point of sale and we effectively communicate to customers in ways such as placing signage on store shelves, sharing notifications on social media, posting alerts at H-E-B Newsroom and alerting local media outlets,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.
“H-E-B does not respond to third-party surveys and did not participate in this survey, which we believe led to this rating,” the spokesperson continued.
H-E-B representatives encouraged customers to visit its website for more detailed recall information.
“We’re not here to blame supermarkets,” Scoggin said. “It’s largely not their fault that these food contamination happens.”
“Unfortunately, we as consumers just need to know about it, and right now there aren’t enough rules in place to make sure that that’s happening,” he continued.
That’s where the federal government comes in.
Mindy Brashears, the deputy under secretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, visited with growers, producers and processors in Austin on Wednesday.
The roundtable meeting featured approximately 50 participants looking for ways to improve the safety of the food products sold at stores around the state and prevent foodborne illnesses.
“What we will do is provide guidance documents or information sessions such as this,” said Brashears, a West Texas native.
“The needs can range from labeling — how do I properly label things — all the way through to microbial testing,” she continued.
“It just takes one failure to make a lot of people sick,” Brashears said.