- All food recalls are voluntary
- Food is recalled for contamination or mislabeling
- You eat commonly recalled foods every day
Is the food you’re eating safe? Thanks to food inspections and recalls,
the answer is most likely yes. However, it’s important to understand
when, why and how food is recalled so you can keep your family safe from
foodborne illnesses like
listeria, salmonella, botulism and the norovirus infection that broke out at the
Winter Olympics in South Korea. According to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, approximately
48 million Americans are affected by foodborne diseases each year.
What is a food recall?
If there is reason to believe food products are contaminated, misbranded
or of poor quality, manufacturers or their distributors will voluntarily
issue a food recall. When this happens, the food products are removed
from store shelves and made unavailable for public consumption. Food recalls
help protect the public from products that may cause health problems,
illness or possible death. Food recalls have three classifications:
Class I indicates there is a
reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death.
Class II indicates there is a
remote probability of adverse health consequences from eating the food.
Class III indicates there are no adverse health consequences, but there is either
a labeling or manufacturing law violation.
Obviously, Class I is the most serious, but any recalled food may call
into question the manufacturer’s practices.
What triggers a food recall and what happens next?
Food recalls are generally the result of a defect in labeling or
contamination. First, a manufacturer or distributor discovers an issue and contacts
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Second, the FDA inspects the facility
in which the issue was discovered and determines whether to issue an official
recall. Third, the FDA researches health reports, chiefly from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to determine if there have been
reported health issues. If there are reports of health problems associated
with the food or drink product in question, an emergency recall is issued
to consumers through news reports, press announcements and safety alerts,
and the FDA works with the producer to eliminate the cause of the problem.
Food recalls may have been back-of-mind for many people until
Chipotle was linked to an E. coli outbreak in 2015. Since then, consumers have remained wary of food safety, particularly
in the fast food industry. However, these ten foods that have the highest
recall rates may surprise you:
Most often recalled due to containing undeclared allergens such as eggs,
nuts, soy, wheat or dairy.
This fruit has a porous rind, making it easy for contaminants to get in.
It’s also non-acidic, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria
and germs once it’s cut open.
The food our furriest family members eat is regularly recalled for salmonella
Like dog food, eggs are commonly recalled due to salmonella contamination.
read egg carton labels, and never buy eggs past their sell-buy date.
Because fruits and vegetables pass through many hands before they land
in your shopping cart, there is an increased risk of listeria contamination.
Salmonella that feeds on juices from damaged leaves has been found to
spread inside packaged greens like bagged lettuce.
Beef, particularly ground beef, is susceptible to E. coli contamination.
Consumers may report milk that spoils before the ‘best-before’
dates, causing a recall. Milk is also recalled for E. coli or other bacteria
and cleaning products used during production or processing.
Often recalled due to salmonella contamination.
Chicken and poultry
Chicken is often recalled for salmonella contamination. Also, ensure raw
chicken is kept refrigerated — and cook it thoroughly to 165 degrees
Fahrenheit to stay safe from food borne illness like salmonella.
Seafood, particularly shellfish, is susceptible to mercury contamination.
Seafood is also commonly recalled due to concerns over botulism and listeria
How can I be alerted or find out about food recalls?
Make sure your food and beverages are safe with these tools:
These tools will help you keep track of food recalls so you can avoid potentially
dangerous contaminants. The next step in food safety is
understanding expiration dates so you know what’s safe
inside your fridge and pantry and for how long. How much do you know about food safety?
Take our quiz to find out.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.