When word went out about a cantaloupe recall on May 15, Bashas' Family of Stores already had the notice on its Web site.

The Chandler, Ariz.-based retailer uses a widget provided by the FDA to notify customers of the latest recall advisories.

A widget is a Web-based device that automatically updates itself from a central source. In this case, information about food recalls comes directly from the FDA.

"It's going straight to the source," said Kristy Nied, director of communications for Bashas.

Bashas began to use the widget, which is provided free by the FDA, during the salmonella outbreak linked to peanuts this spring. The company moved the widget to its home page in mid-May after positive customer response.

"It's actually quite a popular spot on our Web page," Nied said. "It works really well because it offers instantaneous updates."

Instead of manually update its Web site, Bashas automatically has the latest information available, which is a good complement to the company's internal systems, Nied said.

"We have a pretty instantaneous internal process," she said. "Our scanning systems at the cashier level aren't scanning anything that has been recalled."

The FDA started offering the widgets in early 2009, said FDA spokesman Sebastian Cianci.

"We decided to create widgets due to the vast scope of the peanut recalls and pistachio product recalls and partnered with the CDC in their development," he said. "The widgets were picked up and placed on over 20,000 sites and had over 20 million page views on the FDA site."