been listed as being recalled. Many also
share this information with others via
social media, drawing additional public
attention to the recall. Some also visit
the websites of the companies involved
in the recall, seeking additional information, which they may also share.
Yet, some consumers remain
unaware of recalls that affect them
because they never see the warning
information, while others are aware of
the recall but ignore it because they
don’t recognize the products being
recalled or believe that they own them.
Some hear about the recall, and intend
to look for the affected products, but
never do so, or they look for the products but cannot identify them.
When they involve a single product,
or a small but complete list of products
that quickly becomes available and
does not change, recalls can be relatively straightforward. In contrast, expanding recalls, especially those which
ultimately impact dozens or hundreds
of products, are significantly more
complicated. In these cases, some consumers learn of the initial recall notice
and look for affected products but are
unaware of the subsequent notices or
ignore them, believing that they have
already taken action.
Our research has also shown that
some consumers respond to recalls in
ways that are particularly imprudent.
Some who are fully aware of a recall
simply decide to disregard it, consuming the recalled product despite being
warned not to do so. Why? Some do it
because they believe that the warning
is “overblown.” Some are certain that
they can make a potentially contaminated product safe to eat by cooking
or washing it, while others believe they
are immune to foodborne illnesses.
Finally, after discovering that they have
already partially consumed a recalled
product, some people decide that since
they didn’t get sick, it is safe to eat
At the other extreme, some con-
sumers are hypercautious. Some adopt
a “better safe than sorry” strategy, dis-
carding any product resembling those
that have been recalled. This often includes discarding all packages of the products
named in the recall, regardless of whether they match the date or lot codes sub-
ject to recall. Some avoid or discard products that are not part of a recall but were
manufactured by the same company. Others avoid similar products made by other
companies that were not recalled. Some report avoiding products or commodities
that have been the subject of a recall for months or even years after an outbreak of
foodborne illness has ended.
Doing a better job at motivating consumers to act appropriately requires increasing consumer awareness of recalls, increasing their relevance to individual consum-
TandD US, LLC.
firstname.lastname@example.org (518)669-9227 www.tandd.com
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