State to e-mail food safety alerts
Info on illnesses, recalls also to be text messaged
Source of Article: http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20090105/NEWS01/901050321/1002/NEWS01
News about the latest food recalls is now
less than a phone call away with the state Department of
Subscribers will receive information, via text message or e-mail, about food-borne illnesses and product recalls, according to Agriculture Director Don Koivisto.
The service, which started during National Food Safety Month in September, is part of the MDA's continuing program to raise awareness about food-borne illnesses and the importance of food safety, he said.
"Thanks to emerging technologies, we are able to warn consumers almost instantly to avoid or discard recalled food products," Koivisto said. "This ensures public health is protected and maintains the viability of the state's food safety net."
The program is part of a cooperative project by the departments of Agriculture and Information Technology.
"Our strong partnership with Agriculture has resulted in
this potentially life-saving new service that will prevent unnecessary
illnesses and help to protect the health of
Alerts will be sent when there is a Class I food recall, according to Jennifer Holton, a communications officer for Agriculture.
A Class I recall occurs when a product is deemed unsafe or unfit for human consumption, and if consumed, may cause serious health consequences or death, Holton said.
Major recalls up 56%
There has been a 56 percent increase in the number of such
Koivisto said it's critical to quickly get information to citizens.
A recent example was tainted baby formula that resulted in
kidney stones and kidney failure for 50 babies in
Although the problem didn't occur in
"We are now able to share this information with people before they hear or read it in the media," he said.
As technology becomes more available, state and local health officials will be able to work together with citizens to prevent food-borne illnesses and the selling of recalled items, said Tip MacGuire, director of Tuscola County Health Department's environmental health division.
"An e-mail alert seems like a better idea than a text message alert because more people have access to the Internet," MacGuire said.
"But either way, it's a good idea to get that information out there."
It's important for people to be aware of the latest food recalls, MacGuire said, even if they think it might not affect them.
"There are a lot of recalls out there, and you never know when a recalled item might turn up as an ingredient in your food," he said.
Subscribers may use the department's Web site at www.michigan.gov/mda to sign up for e-mail or text message alerts.
Although the exact number of food-borne illness in the
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