How about a nice night out with a retro Ritz cracker appetizer, a freshly made Caesar salad and a sizzling steak? Sounds delicious, right? Even better, leave your kids at home and let them snack on Goldfish crackers. Sounds like a great evening, but you might have increased your chances of getting sick since all of these foods were on the list for the worst food recalls in 2018.
If you feel like you are reading about a new recall every day, you aren’t so far off. Not only are food recalls becoming more common, there has been a new recall almost every day this year on the US Food and Drug Administration’s list of Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts. The total number of alerts for the month of November was 31, including such things as: flour, ready-to-eat sushi, gelato, dried fruit, medication, cottage cheese, fresh veggies, smoked salmon, and soup. There was even a recall for cat food. With a list this long, almost any consumer or manufacturer has a solid chance of being affected.
Foods we commonly consume are making us ill. Every year 1 in 6 Americans become sick from foodborne diseases, according to statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Not only are we getting ill, but some of us are dying. And these numbers are higher than you might imagine. The CDC estimates that 3,000 Americans die annually of foodborne diseases.
In the past six years, serious health hazards from meat and poultry have increased 83 percent and food recalls have increased by 10 percent, according to a report from the non-partisan Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer on why there is an increase in food recalls. Certainly, recalls increased when more stringent food investigation was implemented with the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. This is just one factor. Other reasons cited for an increase in recalls include the following:
Ideas on Why Food Recalls are Increasing:
- More companies are self-reporting, trying to alert the public before a problem develops
- Better science and technology help link blood samples from infected patients back to actual food source.
- Sometimes a product needs to be recalled for an undeclared allergen, such as egg or wheat.
How to Improve the Food Quality:
Although some view the increased food recalls as a sign of progress, many others believe that the food safety practices needs to be updated. Some problems can be stopped at the source through preventing bacteria spread via contaminated irrigation water, by strict hand washing routines for workers and by cleaning processing equipment thoroughly. There are complaints that food regulations are not keeping up with the fast changes in industry and that food regulations are becoming too lax. The watchdog organization PIRG reports that beef, chicken, and turkey can still be sold if a batch tests positive for antibiotic-resistant Salmonella. In short, unhealthy meat is reaching customers and the recalls are issued after people get sick.
The bottom line is that unhealthy food is still reaching the dinner table, and dinner shouldn’t be a health risk.
The Top Five Worst Recalls in 2018: According to the US Public Interest Research Group
- Romaine lettuce
- Honey Smacks cereal
- Ritz and Goldfish crackers, Swiss Rolls
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