Eggs, Honey Smacks and pre-cut melons are all foods that have been recalled
en masse over the last few months with salmonella being a major concern.
It seems as though food recalls are increasingly in the headlines, and
can make you think twice about produce purchases or eating out.
More than 600 people who ate at a
Chipotle restaurant outside Columbus, Ohio, at the end of July have since reported gastrointestinal
symptoms and the restaurant chain is now facing two major lawsuits as
the result of a series of food poisoning scares that began in 2015.
A food recall occurs when there is reason to believe that a food may cause
consumers to become ill. A food manufacturer or distributor initiates
the recall to take foods off the market. In some instances, food recalls
are requested by government agencies including the United States Department
of Agriculture (USDA) or the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Some reasons for recalling food include finding an organism in a product
which may make consumers sick, a potential allergen in a product, and
mislabeling of food. For example, a food may contain an allergen, such
as gluten, but the ingredient does not appear on the label.
Although it seems these recalls are on the rise, the FDA says that's
not the case. According to the
Washington Post article, Food recalls explained: Why it seems like food contamination is on the
rise, the ability to track food borne contaminants has improved with technology
which results in better documentation of these illnesses and contaminants.
In addition, the path from the farm to the table has increased, meaning
that as we consume more processed or out of season foods, the greater
the opportunity for contamination. An example is purchasing an out of
season salad. As it's processed it comes from the field (far from
your home) to the processor, the packager, the distributor and then the
grocer, with the potential for contamination at each step.
You can look up recent food recalls by using the
FDA's website for foods other that meat, poultry, egg and pet food products. The
USDA's website details recalls on meats, poultry and egg products. There are also apps
that will alert you to these recalls.
Being aware of recent recalls can help you to avoid an illness, such as
the norovirus, E. Coli or Salmonella poisoning. Good food personal food
safety practices can also help prevent illness, as many of these viruses
can be eliminated through proper cooking techniques.
At home, be sure to wash your hands frequently while cooking and avoid
cross contamination. Things like cutting boards and counter tops are cesspools
of germs. Wash fruits and vegetables (remember everyone touching those
peaches looking for the perfect one). Look up appropriate cooking temperatures
and use a thermometer when cooking meat. If it looks or smells "funny",
find something else to eat!
When eating out, be on the lookout for warning signs of unsafe eating
conditions. Employees who can't or don't wash their hands, sick
employees, dirty restrooms, hidden kitchens (you can't see their cooking
practices), food that isn't cycled frequently and suspicious looking
foods are all concerns to be mindful of.
Food recall facts
Food Safety Magazine recently published an article titled, "A Look Back at 2017 Food Recalls,"
which details the 436 food recalls of 2017. Some 218 products were recalled
for undeclared allergens, 108 for Listeria, 24 for Salmonella concerns
and 14 were recalled for E. Coli. There were also 42 extraneous material
recalls, meaning there were particles of plastic or metal among other
things found in the products.
One of the most unusual recalls was for "Golf Ball Hash browns",
when pieces of golf balls were found in McCain Foods USA, Inc. Roundy’s
brand and Harris Teeter brand frozen hash browns. It is believed that
the golf balls ended up with the potatoes during the harvesting process.
Campbell County Health's
Wellness works to reduce health risks and promote overall wellness among employee
groups and individuals across the northeastern Wyoming region. To learn
more about Wellness, please visit
www.cchwyo.org/Wellness or call 307.688.8051.
Rachel Wilde, PBT, CPT, MA, works at CCH Wellness as a Technician and Phlebotomist