Food recalls soar 10% in 5 years – with meat and poultry contamination up more than 80%, report finds
- Produce and processed food recalls increased two percent from 2013 to 2018
- But meat and poultry recalls falling in the category of Class I – meaning consumption could lead to death – increased by more than 80 percent
- Researchers say they are unsure if the rise in recalls is due to better technology that can detect contamination or more bacteria in the food supply
Foods recalls in the US are more common than they were five years ago, a new report has found.
Overall recalls – from romaine lettuce to Ritz crackers to Honey Smacks cereal – increased by 10 percent from 2013 to 2018, according to the analysis from government watchdog the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
Most shockingly, meat and poultry recalls falling in the category of Class I, meaning consuming them could lead to death, increased by more than 80 percent.
‘Whether our food has always been this unsafe or is getting worse is not important,’ co-author Adam Garber, a researcher for PIRG, told DailyMail.com.
‘Americans shouldn’t worry that their food will potentially send them to the emergency room or even worse.’
A new report has found that meat and poultry recalls falling in the category of Class I – meaning consuming them could lead to death – increased by more than 80 percent between 2013 and 2018 (file image)
The report found that produce and processed food recalls by the US Food and Drug Administration increased two percent from 2013 to 2018.
However, meat and poultry recalls from the US Department of Agriculture increased by 83 percent over the five-year period.
During this time, poultry had the most recalls at 168, followed by beef at 137 and pork at 18.
However, the 703 total recalls in 2018 were still fewer than the peak of 905 in 2016.
‘More food is contaminated when it reaches our dinner plate than before,’ Garber said.
‘There are these common protections from farm to fork that would protect us from things like salmonella or E. coli.’
According to the researchers, one in six Americans get sick from eating contaminated food, leading to around 3,000 deaths each year.
Two separate E. coli outbreaks linked to romaine lettuce left more than 100 hospitalized and five dead.
A recall of 130,000 pounds of ground beef contaminated with E. coli in September 2018 left one dead and another person died after eating ham contaminated with listeria last July.
The authors of the report said they were unable to determine if the rise in recalls is due to better technology that can detect contamination or more bacteria in the food supply.
Garber said there are three main ways for companies to improve and to be held liable when they sell contaminated foods.
‘The first is we need to ban the sale of meat that has salmonella in it,’ he said.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service allows meat to be sold that companies know is contaminated with salmonella as long as it’s meat that is meant to be cooked.
Garber’s second idea is for public health standards to be set for the water used for irrigation and sprayed on plants.
‘The reason for the March 2018 E. Coli outbreak is believed to be from waste from a big cattle factory farm that contaminated irrigation canals,’ he said.
‘There are no limits for how much bacteria can be in it or how clean the water has to be.’
Lastly he says companies that sell products after a recall need to be punished and to come up with food safety plans if they sell contaminated foods.