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Jif Recalls Peanut Butter – How to Keep Track of Products That May be Unsafe

Posted in Consumer Safety on June 25, 2022

For those making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for their little one, put the knife down and back away from the jar of Jif. Who knew that a simple PB&J could be deadly?

In May 2022, Jif’s parent company, J.M. Smucker Co., announced a voluntary national recall of the popular peanut butter, which also affects nearly 50 other Jif products, as well as other brands in the United States and 10 other countries worldwide that use Jif in their products (snack packs, chocolates, sandwiches, and more). This comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found a potential salmonella contamination within a manufacturing facility in Lexington, Kentucky. 

It is not the first time there has been a food recall in the U.S. or worldwide; it happens frequently. So how can consumers protect themselves, both physically and financially, from a food recall like this? And how do they keep track of other products that may be unsafe in their households?

How & Why Products Are Recalled

If there is enough evidence that a food product is causing illness or physical harm by way of complaints from credible consumers, a manufacturer or distributor may recall that product. By the authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the FDA, those recalled food products are then removed from the shelves at retail stores, distribution is halted, and a public alert is made to consumers.

A checklist of factors that companies consider when deciding to a recall a food item includes whether or not there is:

  • Any sort of contamination. (In the case of Jif, the contamination was salmonella.)
  • A safety concern on a variety of levels.
  • Missing allergen warnings.
  • Claims that are misleading or mislabeled.
  • Improper packaging or storing.

How Can Jif Customers Determine if They Have a Recalled Product?

Jif customers must first look at the lot code number on the peanut butter product package, located near the “Best By” date, not within the UPC number on the bar code. Throw away the peanut butter product right away if:

  • The last three numbers of the seven-digit lot code is 425. This tracks directly to the Lexington manufacturing plant.
  • If the first four numbers of the lot code range anywhere from 1274 to 2140.

What Happens Next for Jif Customers?

Jif has created a special web page for customers to submit a recall claim for up to five products at a time. The Smucker company then plans to send coupons to pay for the replacement of each product, a process that could take up to six weeks. 

Thankfully, since the outbreak first made a person sick on February 17, illnesses have been limited. The FDA and Center for Disease Control (CDC) report that 14 people across 12 states have gotten sick from salmonella. A few things to keep in mind, however, according to the CDC:

  • The actual number of sick people may differ from the number that was reported because many customers recover without medical help.
  • There is typically a two- to four-week delay in connecting someone who is currently ill to the actual outbreak, so undetected cases may rise. 

Salmonella is a bacteria that causes the illness salmonellosis, with symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, fever, and stomach aches. Symptoms can be more extreme for younger children, the elderly, or more vulnerable adults, are normally experienced between six hours and six days after being infected, and can last up to a week. 

How the CDC Classifies Food Recalls

Foodborne illness outbreaks, like salmonella, are tracked by the CDC, which then provides this critical information, including the pertaining recalls, to consumers. It is also important to note that there are varying food recall classifications in this process, such as:

  • Class I means the food product will cause serious health issues, even death, i.e., beef or salad greens with E. coli. 
  • Class II means the food product has a remote possibility of causing illness, and it is not serious. 
  • Class III means the food product will probably not cause illness. Instead, the product is being recalled for another reason, such as a mislabel not connected to any allergens.

There are many resources out there to help stay on top of all active food recalls from the USDA and the FDA and to protect you and your family from these dangerous products. 

How to Report a Possible Tainted Food Product

If a consumer has suffered from an illness due to ingesting a food product that has not been recalled yet, they are in a position to report this dangerous product either to the store the product was purchased from, the manufacturer, or a federal health organization to help others in the process. This is, of course, after you have sought medical attention for your sickness.

There are certain pieces of information that the organization will need. For example, for the USDA to look further into a problem with any meat, poultry, or egg products, the consumer must have: 

  • The original container or package
  • Any foreign object discovered in the product
  • Any uneaten portion of the food product (should be frozen or refrigerated)
  • The consumer’s name, address, and phone number
  • The product’s name, brand, manufacturer, size, and package type
  • Package codes and dates
  • EST (Establishment) number located near the USDA symbol
  • Name and location of the store and the date the product was purchased
  • The type of symptoms, when the symptoms started, and the contact info of the treatment physician

How to Seek Legal Help for a Food Recall

If a food product was used for its intended purpose and caused sickness or harm, consumers also have the right to seek compensation for those damages because of product liability laws. Foodborne illnesses can lead to high medical bills and lost wages on top of one’s pain and suffering. 

Our team of defective product attorneys at the Law Office of John W. Redmann is standing by to discuss the legal details of a pending personal injury lawsuit against the company responsible for a food recall.