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When a Hot Dog Recall Brings Back Safe Food, Where Does It Go Next?


Some customers who thought they were buying Oscar Mayer hot dogs may have instead bought mislabeled cheese dogs. So Kraft (KRFT), which owns the brand, is recalling approximately 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners.

Even though nothing is otherwise wrong with the mislabeled hot dogs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture takes the case seriously because of the risk of milk allergies, which can cause vomiting, hives, digestive problems, and in rare cases, life-threatening anaphylaxis. Federal officials designated it a Class I Recall, whereby “there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”

The fate of the returned dogs is still up in the air, depending on their condition—this is a refrigerated, perishable product, after all. “If the recalled product is safe for donation, and it makes sense to do so, then we do donate it to organizations like local food banks,” says Kraft spokeswoman Joyce Hodel. “When we have more information, we will work with USDA on any action we take.” Unsafe products from recalls end up trashed.

How will food banks know which dogs they’re getting? In cases whose mislabeled products contain food allergens, the USDA requires companies donating recalled products to affix temporary labels to the products showing the correct ingredient list; containers they’re shipped in must be labelled “Not For Sale.”

Venessa-wong-190x190
Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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