Food product recalls and outbreaks seemed to never cease over the past year (2018).
For the fourth consecutive year, Food Safety Magazine has kept track of every food-related recall announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS).
For 2018, Food Safety Magazine counted a total of 382 food product recalls. Some products were recalled more than once due to additional product variations, lot numbers, or retail locations.
Food Allergen Recalls
In 2018, 160 product recalls were due to undeclared allergens.
- Milk – 55
- Tree nuts – 39
- Eggs – 33
- Peanut – 26
- Soy – 24
- Wheat – 19
Some of these recalls were likely due to cross-contamination to other food types. Commonly mentioned in recall notices is that the actual problem is product mislabeling. So even if a food product is formulated perfectly, it can still be recalled if the label does not disclose whatever allergenic ingredients may possibly be present in that food product.
As we know here in South Africa, 2018 was the year of the Listeriosis outbreak. Yet, food product recalls were not unique to South Africa.
In the US alone, 70 foods were recalled due to Listeria, Salmonella and E.coli contamination. With Listeria related recalls being the overwhelming majority.
Salmonella was suspected in approximately 67 recalls last year, mostly related to pet foods, followed by ready-to-eat deli salads and wraps.
E. coli was named in 16 food recalls, mostly for raw ground beef products.
Foreign Object Contamination
Out of 28 foreign material contamination recalls in 2018, about half of them (13) were caused by the presence of plastic. The second-most common foreign material that prompted multiple food recalls was metal.
The Most Common Foods in the 2018 Outbreaks
2018 was dominant by leafy greens, specifically romaine lettuce. 2018 started with an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that carried over from 2017. This outbreak, which first became apparent in November 2017, occurred simultaneously in both the U.S. and Canada. By the time that year ended, the outbreak—believed but never confirmed (in the U.S) to be linked to romaine lettuce—had sickened at least 17 people in 13 states.
Canada, however, did pinpoint romaine lettuce as the source of their E. coli outbreak and issued a warning to citizens to avoid the leafy greens until the outbreak appeared to be over. More than 40 illnesses across Canada were reported.
The next romaine lettuce outbreak involved 210 people in 36 states who were infected with E. coli O157:H7
Finally, a third E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce was located from a farm in Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County).
62 people had fallen ill in 16 states and Washington D.C., and 25 people had to be hospitalised.
At the close of the Listeriosis outbreak in South Africa which was announced on 5 December 2017 had resulted in 1 060 confirmed laboratory cases and total death count of 216.
In the US, Johnston County Hams in Smithfield, NC recalled more than 40 000 Kg of ready-to-eat ham products that may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Salmonella & Eggs
South Africa had its own difficulties with Salmonella and egg contamination. With reported cases in KwaZulu/Natal.
In the US, roughly 206 Million eggs produced by Rose Acre Farms were recalled in April due to a Salmonella scare. A total of 45 illnesses were reported in 10 states. 11 people had to be hospitalised. All of the victims reported eating eggs or egg-containing dishes.
Between October and December of 2018, JBS Tolleson, Inc. (Tolleson, AZ) recalled 5 Million Kg’s of raw minced beef products that may have been contaminated with Salmonella. The meat products were sold primarily under the Kroger brand, both at the retail and foodservice levels in Texas, California, Arizona, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan.
With outbreaks occurring at record numbers in 2018, more awareness of food safety and the consequences are needed.
Contact us for help with your food factory or kitchen today.