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Department of Public Health
Environmental Health
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Product Recall Classes

Recalls are assigned subjective levels of risk by the reporting agency and may be reported using the following classes listed below.

There are three classes of recall used by the FDA and USDA: Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3, often represented with Roman numerals I, II and III respectively. While both the FDA and USDA have their own definitions of product recall classes, they follow the same general rule 1= most serious / dangerous, 2= potentially dangerous and 3 = least dangerous. Regardless of the classification level of a recall, consumers are advised to take each of them seriously and follow the instructions provided by the agency responsible for the recall.


 

FDA RECALL CLASSES DEFINED

When the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalls a product, they classify it into three classes (much like USDA) based on the relative health risk:

Class I Class I Recalls by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are the most severe type of FDA recall. In a Class-I recall there is a potential for serious injury or death.
Class II Class II Recalls are issued on products that have a lower chance of causing major injuries or death, but where there is still the possibility of serious enough adverse events to have irreversible consequences.
Class III Class III Recalls are not very likely to cause adverse health consequences, but there is still a chance and therefore the product is being recalled.

USDA RECALL CLASSES DEFINED

When the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Recall Committee recommends a recall, they classify the recall into three classes (much like FDA) based on the relative health risk:

Class 1 Class 1 USDA recalls are the most serious and involve a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death.
Class 2 Class 2 USDA recalls involve a potential health hazard situation in which there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from eating the food.
Class 3 Class 3 USDA recalls involve a situation in which eating the food will not cause adverse health consequences.

HEALTH RISK

The terms "high," "medium" and "low" risk used by U.S.D.A., F.S.I.S. and other food safety groups are qualitative risk assessments and are subjective. What this means is that the amount of risk something poses is not quantified and there is not an objective, agreed upon, level of risk, using this terminology. Instead, there is only a subjective and common understanding of relative meaning to these risk assessment terms (high, medium, low).


NOT REPORTED (NR)

The reporting agency did not specify/designate a risk classification.




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