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Opinion: The growing number of food recalls

By Steve Coulter

According to Food Safety Magazine there were 337 food recalls issued last year. That’s a huge number and it can be very serious.

The CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

Here are some of the foods recalled in July 2020. Ideal Foods flatbread pizza, P&S beef ravioli, Whole Foods spinach artichoke dip and key lime tarts, Flagstone Foods LLC pecan trail mix, Jewel-Osco garden salads, KIND Healthy Snacks oats & honey granola and Coco’s fully cooked Italian meatballs all recalled last month.

Steve Coulter, Co-Publisher

There have been some major recall alerts the last few years. Do you remember the big lettuce recall last year? It seems like lettuce was always being recalled. Contaminated romaine lettuce that made people sick in that outbreak harvested from the Salina Valley region in California and is no longer available for sale. The CDC is no longer advising that people avoid romaine lettuce.

Last year Tyson Foods, Inc. recalled more than 11 million pounds of frozen, ready -to-eat chicken strip products that may have been contaminated with extraneous pieces of metals.

And last year we had recalls on spinach, beef, hummus, cookie dough, apples, avocados, hot dogs and so much more.

All the bakers will remember the multi-state outbreak of E.coli infections linked to flour. I would have never imagined a flour outbreak. The illnesses started on dates ranging from December 11, 2018, to May 21, 2019.

Who remembers the massive recall on Blue Bell Ice cream? It happened back in 2015. Blue Bell recalled all products on the market made at any of its facilities including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks. It came after ice cream tested positive for Listeria.

On May 1, 2020, Blue Bell Creameries L.P. agreed to plead guilty to charges that it knowingly distributed contaminated ice cream products linked to that outbreak.

In 2011 we had the worst foodborne illness outbreak ever in the United States. That was the year to stay away from cantaloupes. There were 33 deaths and a lot of sick people from contaminated cantaloupes linked to Jensen Farms in Colorado.

The list of contaminated food over the years is mind boggling and it continues right now.

Hostess has just recalled Raspberry Zingers due to mold fears. The Zingers could grow mold before the “best buy” dates.

Like taquitos and chimichangas? Better stay away from those for awhile. The Department of Agriculture issued a recall alert for frozen beef and chicken taquitos and chimichangas. The food is sold nationwide under brands like Walmart’s Great Value, Casa Mamita and Jose Ole. The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials such as hard plastic.

Happy Colon Foods, LLC of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma is recalling Happy Colon YUM Shortbread Cookie and Happy Colon Mmmm Chocolate Chip Cookie, because they may contain undeclared milk. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

Perhaps the biggest threat this summer comes from a salmonella outbreak linked to onions. The FDA has a brand new warning.

“Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell or serve red, white, yellow, or sweet onion from Thomson International and if you cannot tell if your onion is from Thomson International Inc, or your food product contains these onions, you should not eat, sell, or serve it, and should throw it out,” said Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response.

The FDA warns that people who have symptoms of Salmonella infection should contact their health care provider. Most people with salmonellosis develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. More severe cases of salmonellosis may include a high fever, aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash, blood in the urine or stool, and in some cases may become fatal.

I have one more warning that makes me just shake my head. We have a hand sanitizer recall in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The FDA and U.S. Surgeon General urge consumers not to use certain hand sanitizers, citing serious adverse events and death.

Make sure your hand sanitizer doesn’t contain methanol, which is often used in fuel and antifreeze. Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening when ingested. Keep it away from pets and children.

I’m sure there will be another recall alert soon. What will it be? I’m betting something unusual and completely unexpected.




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