Eating Recalled Food: What will Happen?

Short Answer: If you accidentally eat recalled food, you may get sick from food poisoning or allergic reactions.

Recalled food is food that has been withdrawn from the market because it may pose a health risk to consumers due to contamination, mislabeling, or other reasons.

If you accidentally eat recalled food, you may experience symptoms of food poisoning, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or abdominal cramps.

This is because it may contain harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. coli, or Listeria, or allergens that are not declared on the label, such as peanuts, eggs, or milk.

Harmful bacteria can cause infections in the digestive system and sometimes lead to serious complications, such as dehydration, kidney failure, or septic shock.

Allergens can trigger allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to them, which can range from mild to life-threatening, such as hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis.

It is quite uncommon to eat recalled food due to the efforts of the food industry and the government agencies to inform the public and remove the products from the shelves as soon as possible.

However, some people may not be aware of the recall notices or may have already purchased and stored the food before the recall was announced.

You can prevent or treat the effects of eating recalled food by following these steps:

  • Check the recall notices regularly on the websites of FDA, USDA, or, or sign up for email or RSS alerts.
  • If you have any recalled food in your home, do not eat it. Return it to the store where you bought it or throw it away in a sealed bag.
  • If you have eaten recalled food and feel sick, contact your health care provider immediately. Tell them what you ate and when, and mention the recall notice if you know it.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and follow your doctor’s advice on medication or treatment.
  • If you have a severe allergic reaction, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away. Carry an epinephrine auto-injector if you have one and use it as directed.

To avoid accidental eating of recalled food, you should also:

  • Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces before and after handling food.
  • Cook food to the proper temperature and refrigerate leftovers promptly.
  • Read the labels carefully and avoid food that you are allergic to or that has expired.
  • Be extra cautious if you are pregnant, elderly, or have a weakened immune system, as you are more vulnerable to foodborne illnesses.

Finally, remember, recalled food is not safe to eat and can cause serious health problems.

Always check the recall notices and follow the safety tips to protect yourself and your family.

About the Author

Abdur Rahman Choudhury

Abdur Rahman Choudhury is a nutrition coach with over 7 years of experience in the field of nutrition.

He holds a Bachelor's (B.Sc.) and Master's (M.Sc.) degree in Biochemistry from The University of Burdwan, India. He was also involved with a research project about genetic variations in the CYP11A gene among PCOS and Metabolic Syndrome patients.

He has completed the following online courses: Stanford Introduction to Food and Health by Stanford University (US) through Coursera, Certificate in Nutrition from Fabulous Body Inc. (US), Lose Weight and Keep It Off certificate course from Harvard Medical School (US), and Nutrition and Disease Prevention by Taipei Medical University (Taiwan) through FutureLearn.

Abdur currently lives in India and keeps fit by weight training and eating mainly home-cooked meals.

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