Food Contamination Causing Deaths, Sickness and Lots of Recalls

In the spring of 2018, romaine lettuce grown in a region near Yuma, Arizona, was abruptly pulled from store shelves due to E. coli contamination. The final toll of the outbreak looked like this: 210 people from 36 states were affected, 96 people were hospitalized and 5 were killed.

If you haven’t already been cautious about the foods you eat, now is a good time to start. The amount of contaminated food continues to grow. Food recalls have risen dramatically in recent years. Ritz crackers, Goldfish, Swiss rolls, and Kellogg’s Honey Smacks have been removed from shelves just this summer. Salmonella was the culprit for each of those foods.

The outbreak is serious enough that the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Services sent out a public health alert. It warns that salmonella may be present in whey powder which is present in many food items.

Restaurant giant McDonald’s was hit with a food contamination outbreak recently. Salads contained the cyclospora parasite which causes intestinal illness. There have been 286 laboratory-confirmed cases with 11 customers hospitalized.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention report approximately one in six people in the United States get ill every year eating contaminated food. From 2009 to 2015, 145 people have died from food poisoning in the United States.

Recalls increasing

Food regulators are currently recalling twice as many products as ten years ago. According to Stericycle Expert Solutions, recalls from the U.S. Department of Agriculture went up 83 percent from 2012 to 2017. The Food and Drug Administration had a 92 percent recall jump during that same time.

Recalling food can be a slow process

The amount of time contaminated food stays on the shelves may be longer than you think. The Department of Health and Human Services reported it took companies on average 57 days to recall a food item once the company was informed. They also reported the Food and Drug Administration does not have a proper food-recall process in place. The longer tainted food stays on the shelf, the greater the chance it will cause sickness or death.

Laws have helped food safety

The Food Safety Modernization Act was enacted in 2011 and gave the FDA the power to order companies to recall food if the company failed to do it themselves.

Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act back in 2006, the law requires labels on food to display ingredients that are allergens. So far in 2018, these allergens accounted for 47 percent of recalls by the FDA and 28 percent of USDA recalls.

Food poisoning liability

Food poisoning and contamination can be very serious. Although many people can recover from their ailments within a few days, food poisoning can be life-threatening and even deadly. If you have been seriously injured due to food poisoning, you should consult with a reputable law firm.


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