By: Keeba Smith
The year 2017 has certainly been a year for the record books. Food recalls seemed to be a weekly event throughout the year. They can be unnerving and may cause panic. When a product you’ve purchased during a weekly grocery run is later recalled because it has the potential to make you and your family sick, it can be a terrifying experience. You expect a product to be safe when you buy packaged food. It is very disheartening to find out later that said product might be lead to potential illness, or has metal or glass shards inside of it.
Food recalls can be scary; however, it is important to remember that while food recalls are necessary, not every recall is deadly. In some instances, food recalls are simply done as a precaution. A single package may be suspected as contaminated and the company may recall the entire batch just to be safe. A recall can be issued because an ingredient was omitted from the label and can be harmful for people with certain allergies or intolerance to certain foods.
It is important not to panic if a product you have purchased has been recalled. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which issues the recalls, will officially classify the recalls based on how dangerous it really is for consumers. While products are recalled all the time for relatively benign reasons, this year revealed some glaring oversights in the food industry.
Here are 2017’s biggest food calls and why they happened
During the summer of 2017, Tyson recalled 2.4 million pounds of chicken patties and fritters. The recall was due to a simple mislabeling as opposed to a salmonella infection or any other foodborne illness. The packages contained milk and didn’t have a label to warn those with a lactose allergy. Tyson quickly corrected the issue since dairy allergies can be deadly.
Aldi recalled cashews from 28 states because they contained glass shards. While cashews have added benefits that can help diabetics and lower blood pressure, but the benefits were not worth the risk. The snack canisters could have been potentially deadly which lead Aldi to issue the recall.
OK Food Breaded Chicken
A million pounds of breaded chicken were recalled after five customers found metal in their food. The FDA issued a severe “Class 1” recall which indicated a high level of risk and danger to the public. The recall affected products were dated from Dec 2016 to March 2017.
This was an unusual recall issued by the FDA for the entire batch of “New of Kopi Jantan Traditional Natural Herbs Coffee” because it contained desmethyl carbodenafil, similar to the sildenafil in Viagra. The Texas-based coffee company voluntarily recalled the product because the label did not have milk listed as an ingredient. Undeclared milk could cause serious or life-threatening allergic reaction. No illnesses related to the consumption of the coffee were reported. The instant coffee was promoted as a male enhancement product and sold online. The FDA has advised the public not to purchase this and similar products.
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Fresh Express Prepackaged Salads
This past spring at a Florida Walmart, a decomposing bat was found inside the prepackaged salad. Walmart quickly removed the product from the store shelves. Fresh Express recalled a limited number of cases of Organic Marketside Spring Mix. The recall affected up to 8 states, but no customers reported illness or any signs of rabies.
Smucker Food Flour
Smucker Food issued a massive nationwide recall affecting all 50 states. Three brands of flour, which were shipped from Canada to the U.S., were suspected to contain possible E. coli. No cases of infection in connection to the product were reported in the U.S. Consumers were urged to throw out the affected product immediately.
Nathan’s Beef Franks
Nathan’s is the most popular hot dog brand on the market. In May, there was a voluntary recall of their Nathan’s 8 Skinless Beef Franks because it may have been contaminated with metal. Nathan’s recalled over 200,000 pounds of ready-to-eat hot dogs. There were three complaints about metal objects in the beef franks, but no reports of injuries or illnesses related to the product.
Nitro Cold Brew
In September, a New York company, Death Wish Coffee, issued a recall for their Nitro Cold Brew 11-once cans. An investigation into the brewing process found the cans were ripe for contamination with the deadly neurotoxin that causes botulism. The FDA reported no sickness related to the cold brew and the company has stopped making the product until manufacturing changes are made.
Blue Buffalo Dog Food
Blue Buffalo is usually a good choice for dog food, but one particular batch was recalled in March. Blue Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs was recalled because the product may have contained elevated levels of naturally occurring beef thyroid hormone. There were no reports of dogs exhibiting symptoms from consuming the product, however the FDA and Blue Buffalo decided to voluntarily recall as a precaution.
Food recalls are simply a game of chance. Any product could be recall at anytime for any reason. No one product has been recalled more than another. Food recalls are used to protect the health and safety of the public. If you have a product that is recalled, follow the FDA recommended guidelines. Here’s to hoping 2018 has less recalls than 2017.