Do you scan a supermarket or chain-store discount card when you go shopping?

If so, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) wants stores to contact you when you purchase items affected by product recalls.

Besides saving you some money, retail loyalty cards help supermarkets and chain stores assemble huge databases on customers’ shopping preferences. All of that card-swiping lets stores know exactly what you’ve purchased.

Some companies have already proved notification programs can be handled successfully. Costco, Wegmans Food Markets and Price Chopper have used their data to notify consumers who purchased recalled items. Costco, in fact, made more than 1.5 million automated phone calls and mailed even more letters to customers in the current peanut-related recall alone. But most chains that collect purchasing data fail to notify their customers.

“Supermarkets enjoy using purchasing data for marketing purposes,” says CSPI staff attorney Sarah Klein. “We’re calling on supermarkets to also use that information to protect their customers’ health by alerting them to identify and return tainted foods. Several major chains are already doing that, and every other chain should do the same.”

CSPI is urging retailers to get with the program—and quickly.

“Peanut butter is obviously popular with children, including very young children who are particularly at risk of serious complications or death if they contract a foodborne salmonella infection,” Klein says. “It would be outrageous if some of the deaths in this latest outbreak could have been prevented had a supermarket just used the phone numbers and addresses in its database to notify its customers.

“It’s not enough just to take the tainted products off the supermarket shelf,” she adds. “Wherever possible, supermarkets should reach out to their customers and help get contaminated food products out of their homes.”

We couldn’t agree more.

New Recalls (Natural and Organic Products)

Note: This is an update, not a comprehensive list. Please continue to check the FDA’s searchable list of recalled products.

From Our Blog (Chronological Coverage)

New Resources