Biggest Food Recalls in Recent History

Food recalls are very common — especially in North America, where there are strict food and drug regulations. Sometimes, if a company simply forgets to add a label to their package, that might be a reason for a recall. A missing or incorrect label could literally mean the difference between life and death for individuals with food allergies. Other times, the issue may be serious for everyone. For example, contamination with harmful pathogens. Either way, when we become aware of a food recall, we tend to discard the product or return it for a refund.

Unfortunately, the recall is too late sometimes, or people may not be aware of a recall and they consume a recalled product. What is the impact of this? Well, each year, 48 million Americans become ill due to a food-borne pathogen and hundreds of thousands are hospitalized. Sadly, there are hundreds to thousands of deaths each year due to food-related illness. There are also financial repercussions for the company and sky-high medical bills for victims.

What are some of the biggest food recalls in recent history? Let’s have a closer look at some of them.

1. Adam’s Flavors

Peanut allergies are one of the most common food allergies in North America — and they are on the rise. When an individual with a peanut allergy consumes a product with peanuts in it (or even a product exposed to peanuts), it can cause itchiness, swelling, a drop-in blood pressure, and even cardiac arrest. Of course, this means that food companies are required to carefully label their products.

Sometimes, though, an error occurs. For example, in 2014, Adam’s Flavors, Food and Ingredients (a Texas company) announced that they were recalling spice products due to peanut-contaminated cumin from one of its suppliers. Following this, there was a snowball effect, with over 10 companies issuing recalls for peanut-contaminated cumin. The products recalled ranged from spices to seasoned meat products and even bread crumbs.

Campos Food, for example, recalled 5,300 pounds of chicken products, while Fresh Food Manufacturing recalled over 35,000 pounds of chili products.

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2. Nestlé

Nestlé is a well-known and trusted name in the food industry. So, this recall goes to show that even the big companies have issues sometimes. In 2009, Nestlé USA recalled 300,000 cases of cookie-dough due to an E. Coli risk. This included its popular chocolate chip batter. The recall came after 65 E. Coli-related illnesses were reported. E. Coli is one of the most popular reasons for pathogen-related food recalls. The symptoms of this bacterial infection include vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches. They usually appear within one to 10 days of infection and end within 10 days. But, in some cases, the infection can be life-threatening.

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3. Kraft Foods

Kraft Foods is yet another food company giant who issued a massive recall in the U.S. In February 2007, Kraft recalled over 52,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer/Louis Rich Chicken Breast Strips because listeria was found in a package. That number already sounds pretty high, but the following month, they recalled 2.8 million pounds of chicken, as well as all its products that came from the contaminated plant.

Listeria symptoms (which include fever and diarrhea) typically start one to four weeks after eating food contaminated with listeria. Fortunately, no illnesses were reported regarding the Kraft recall.

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