Recent Food Recalls

Food RecallProblems necessitating food recalls may be detected by government inspectors,  manufacturers or processors, or consumers.  Some, but by no means all, recalls are about pathogens discovered in food.  Let’s look at some recent recalls (June and early July, 2010), and see what they were about.






The product may contain a pathogen that could cause food-borne illness.


Recent Recalls: 


- Marie Callender’s Cheesy Chicken and Rice frozen meals  (salmonella)

- Fresh spinach, Krisp-Pak, Lancaster, Grant, and American Choice (listeria)

- South Gate Meat Co. ground beef (E.coli)

- Rocky Mountain Natural Meats (in Colorado) recalled 66,000 pounds of ground and tenderized bison steak products (E.coli).


Production error:


The manufacturer or processor finds that a mistake in processing could be a health threat.


Recent Recalls:


- Chicken of the Sea 2-oz. solid white tuna in water (The product didn’t meet the company’s   standards for seal tightness.)

- Campbell Soup Company SpaghettiOs. (The cooker malfunctioned, so the product was underprocessed. This recall involved 3 types of SpaghettiOs with meatballs, resulting in the recall of 15 million pounds of product!)


Uncharacteristic odor /or off-flavor:


These recalls resulted from consumer complaints about strange odors.


Recent Recalls:


- Kellogg cereals: Corn Pops, Honey Smacks, Froot Loops, and Apple Jacks

(The unusual odor and flavor came from the liner in the package.  Kellogg voluntarily recalled 28 million boxes of cereal!)

- Tylenol gels and Benadryl  tablets (The odor was caused by “the breakdown of a chemical applied to   wood used to build wooden pallets that transport and store product packaging materials.”)  


Foreign object in product:


This is also a problem generally first discovered by consumers, but not in  the following case.


Recent Recall:


- Great Kitchens BBQ chicken pizza

(During production, the company discovered small pieces of plastic in the product.)


Common food allergen undeclared:


The common allergens that must be listed in the ingredients label are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (such as almonds, cashew, and walnuts) fish (such as bass, cod, and flounder), shellfish (such as crab, lobster, and shrimp), soy and wheat).


Recent Recalls:


- Roba Dolce Double Chocolate Gelato  (peanuts)

- Fuma Custard Pie (milk powder)


Undeclared drug ingredient:

If a product being sold as a food or a supplement rather than a drug has an ingredient that the FDA classifies as a drug, the company will be asked to recall the product.


Recent Recall:


Slim – 30  Herb Supplement (It contained 2 appetite suppressants classified as drugs.)


At the time of the recalls mentioned above, there were very few reported food-borne illnesses related to the conditions of these products.  (The contaminated bison meat did cause an outbreak with at least 5 reported illnesses.) 


Recalls relate to products produced at a specific time.  Consumers need to check the code and date on a recalled product to find out if the particular product they have is part of an announced recall.  The recall does not apply to all samples of that item and doesn’t mean that consumers should cross that item off their grocery lists forever.


The Federal Government’s Role in Recalls


The FDA has no authority under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to  order a recall.  However, it does have the authority to REQUEST that a company recall a particular product.  The manufacturer or distributor will generally comply. “If it does not, the FDA can seek a court order authorizing the federal government to seize the product,” explains. 


If you would like to be on the list to get notification of food safety recalls and alerts, go to Food ( provides the latest information  on all food recalls and alerts as well as on food illness outbreaks.   Content from comes from the following sources: the  USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the  FDA (which issues recalls on most human food, pet food, and animal feed), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and the  HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).  If you or a family member has a history of serious allergic reactions to a food, you may want to register to receive these notifications of recalls for products that contain unlisted common allergens.


The federal government groups recalls into 3 classes.  Class I is for dangerous products that could cause a serious health problem or  even death.  Class II is for products  leading to “a remote probability of adverse health consequences.”  ( says Class II is for less serious, short-term illnesses.)  Class III  includes products that are not likely to cause illness but that violate FDA regulations.   You may see these class labels on online postings by federal agencies.


Some federal agencies also send emails to people that register to receive notices about products that could be dangerous.  For example, the  FDA recently warned consumers to avoid Magic Power Coffee, an instant coffee product marketed as a dietary supplement for sexual enhancement. Actually, this product should be classified as a drug because it contains an active drug ingredient that can lower blood pressure to a dangerous level, especially for individuals taking certain prescription medications.


FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify that recalling firms have notified their customers (including restaurants) of the recall and that steps are taken to make sure that the product is no longer available to consumers.   


Why Consumers Should Help to Control Food-borne Illness


There’s a huge difference between number of confirmed cases of food-borne illness and the estimated number of cases. If a patient is seen in a doctor’s office or hospital and the agent (the type of pathogen) is confirmed, the case must be reported to the Centers for Disease Control. CDC records show over 2 million confirmed cases per year.
However, many people who develop a short-term food-borne illness do not consult a doctor, and, in many cases seen by a physician, the particular pathogen is never identified. A Harvard Medical School health report estimates that about 76 million cases of food-borne illness occur annually and about 5,000 deaths. Figuring the U.S. population at 307 million, that would be roughly 1 out of 4 Americans getting a food-borne illness each year!


What do these statistics suggest?  If people who develop a food-borne illness or  come in contact with a defective product would contact the store (or restaurant), the manufacturer, the local Health Department, and the federal government, the tracking and controlling of food-borne illnesses would be faster and more effective than it is now.


A Possible Recall Involves You!  What Should You Do?


Let’s consider  three scenarios and what you, the consumer, should do in response:


1. You (or a family member) develop symptoms that you believe were caused by consuming  contaminated food either at home,  a restaurant, or some other eating establishment.


What to do: Call your doctor if your symptoms are severe. Report your illness to the manufacturer, restaurant, store or any other place where the food originated (even if you suspect it came from your best friend’s casserole).  In addition, call the Health Department in your city, country, or state. Also, contact the federal government by phone or email.  (Note:  USDA handles complaints about meat, poultry, or egg products. The FDA handles other foods and drugs.) Go to website “Report a Problem with Food”  (, and follow its directions. The page has podcasts and scripts telling you exactly how to proceed. 


2. A product you have in your home seems defective. For example, it smells or looks bad or contains a foreign body.


What to do: Phone the manufacturer, and follow the company’s instructions, or  return the damaged product to the place of purchase and request a refund.  You should also call your local Health Department, and follow the advice above (in #1) above for contacting the federal government.


3. A product you have at home has been recalled.


What to do: If you phone the manufacturer (or processor) or check the company website, you’ll probably get instructions about what to do to get a refund as well as instructions on how to dispose of the product.  If it’s contaminated, you’ll probably be advised to throw out the product and just keep the container to return to the store.  Contaminated food should be wrapped well and disposed of in a covered garbage container so that no children or animals can get at it.   


Related information on this site: To learn more about the bacteria and molds that can cause food-borne illness, type FAQs on Bacteria or FAQs on Mold into this site’s search box.  These headings will get you to a list of Q/As on these topics.


To find out more about allergens, click here:


Source(s): “Report a Problem with Food” “Definitions of Recalls, FDA”


Food “Your Online Resource for Recalls”


Healthy Eating: A guide to the new nutrition.  A Harvard Medical School Special Health Report.  Frank M. Sacks, M.D., medical editor. 2008, p. 40.


Link(s): “Definitions of Recalls, FDA”


Food “Your Online Resource for Recalls”

Good thing that they have posted the things that we should during such recall. Convenience foods are on the suspect list today, probably the most recent recall is Walmart's chicken nuggets. The nuggets may have little blue plastic pieces in them. The plant suspects that a blue plastic ring fell into the meat, and then after all the grinding and mixing broke into smaller pieces contaminating much of the product.

I read this here: Wal-Mart chicken nugget recall affects 90,000 pounds

Don't go taking out a payday advance to sue the company, the recall has already been cleared as being non-threatening; but you nevertheless should bring any chicken nuggets you have back to the store for a refund.


You must be logged in to post a comment or question.

Sign In or Register for free.