Food Recall: Who’s Checking Food Safety?

Be wary of the food you buy. Be especially cautious of prepared food, even from seemingly reputable sources. From January 2014 to August 2014, there were over 140 food and drug products recalled in the United States. In 2008 there were 18 recalls in California alone, according to the Department of Public Health. In recent years there has been a falling standard of product reliability. Online food forum Epic Portions: Adventure In Food wrote, “You know, that whole thing where cat food uses “Grade-C” meat, so eating Taco Bell is far worse than eating cat food.” According to the site, Taco Bell has lowered its standards from Grade C meat to Grade D meat.

In 2014 there have been recalls due to metal fragments in food, spoiled ingredients, and much more. One recent recall in California was of a chicken caesar salad kit. As reported by the Food Safety and Inspection Services “92,657 pounds of fully cooked chicken caesar salad kit products were recalled due to concerns about possible Listeria monocytogenes.” Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) is a food poisoning that can cause miscarriage, premature delivery, serious infection of the newborn, stillbirth or impaired immune systems. In another incident, Lean Cuisine failed to note on the label that there were allergens, such as seafood and peanuts, in some of their products, which are dangerous, even life threatening. The Lean Cuisine Culinary Collection Chicken dish with Peanut Sauce was recalled by the Food and Drug Administration in August 2014 due to incorrect product labeling.

Even the well-known Twix company had to recall 25 cases of Twix Minis in September of 2014, as Twix failed to label the product as containing peanuts and eggs.

The E. coli strain, known as O157:H7, has recently caused serious illness, even deaths, and necessitated massive recalls of packaged salad greens and meat. Food and Safety News reported that “five children were reportedly in a Louisville, KY, hospital on Friday being treated for hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a potentially fatal kidney disease typically caused by an E. coli infection.” E. coli is transmitted by consuming unpasteurized milk or uncooked meat and greens. Officials with the Kentucky Department for Public Health are trying to find what food might have caused  the hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration has upgraded its system for recall notifications to a three step process: First, the contaminated product is identified and reported to the FDA. The next step involves effective check-ins where the FDA “evaluates whether all reasonable efforts have been made to remove or correct a product,” the FDA website reported. Finally,  step three includes assigning the product a recall classification.

It is now up to the United States government to stop these infractions of food safety. There have been many acts passed in the last century for food safety. One is The  Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, which protects Americans from dangourous pesticides. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 required that companies must properly label food information due to millions of consumers with allergies. People can stay updated with recall and food infractions by checking the FDA website. In 2011, President Obama signed into law the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which aims to prevent contamination of foodstuffs rather than responding to it.

However, many state programs have been accused of leniency in meat inspection. Important laws like the Act of 2004, when not followed, can cause the deaths of hundreds of Americans. In short, the United States is far from accomplishing a safe food environment.

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