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Report shows 2023 had highest food recall levels since COVID-19 pandemic began




Report shows 2023 had highest food recall levels since COVID-19 pandemic began


Food recalls in 2023 reached the highest levels the U.S. has recorded since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly due to undisclosed allergens and listeria contamination, according to a new report released Thursday.

Key facts

About 313 food recalls (affecting products that were still on sale) and alerts (involving products that are no longer for sale but may be in consumers’ homes) were announced last year by the Food and Drug Administration Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an 8% increase from 2022 and the highest number since the COVID pandemic began in 2020, according to a report released Thursday by the nonprofit U.S. Public Research Interest Group Education Fund .

Contaminated food resulted in six deaths and more than 1,100 illnesses last year, although researchers suspect there were more illnesses because most people recover from food poisoning without medical attention.

The most frequently recalled food products in 2023 were snack foods such as cookies and granola bars, which accounted for one in five recalls, although other commonly recalled foods included fruit (mainly melons), beef, soup, salads and vegetables, poultry, cheese, vegetables and supplements . and pet food, according to the report.

Nearly half of all recalls (49.3%) in 2023 were for allergens not listed on the package, while other leading reasons for recalls include listeria contamination (15%), salmonella contamination (8.6%) and uninspected products (6.1%) were.

This increase in undisclosed allergen cases was driven in part by the inclusion of sesame – which accounted for 39% of the increase – as a mandatory disclosed allergen, a rule that started in January 2023.

What are the five biggest food recalls of 2024 so far?

  • Dairy products: An investigation into a “multi-year, multi-state” listeria outbreak was reopened after listeria was found in several food products containing dairy, such as queso fresco and cotija cheese. This outbreak includes cases dating back to 2014, and the FDA investigated it in 2017 and 2021, although it could not link a specific brand to the outbreak. The most recent investigation was reopened in January and manufacturer Rizo-Lopez Foods issued a voluntary recall 60 dairy products. Major retailers such as Walmart, Costco and Trader Joe’s have recalled products including salad and taco kits due to possible contamination. As of April 9, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report the outbreak is over. The agencies said there were 26 cases, 23 hospitalizations and two deaths in 11 states.
  • Trader Joe’s Dumplings: In March, more than 61,000 pounds of Trader Joe’s steamed chicken soup dumplings were recalled due to possible hard plastic contamination from a permanent marker. The products were voluntarily recalled by manufacturer CJ Foods Manufacturing Beaumont Corporation, according to to the USDA. The problem was discovered after customers filed complaints about hard plastic in their dumplings, although no side effects were reported.
  • Ground cinnamon: The FDA has one alert in March it warned that six ground cinnamon products contained unsafe levels of lead. These products were sold in several states at discount stores such as Dollar Tree and Family Dollar. This recall came after the FDA investigated the 2023 recall of lead-contaminated cinnamon applesauce, which led to more than 500 reports of adverse reactions in children.
  • Trader Joe’s Cashews: Wenders LLC, the manufacturer of the nuts, recalled four lots of Trader Joe’s 50% Reduced Sodium Roasted and Salted Whole Cashews in March due to possible salmonella contamination. Although no illnesses have been reported, the possibly contaminated nuts were sold in 16 states.
  • Quaker Oat Products: Quaker oats extensive its list of recalled products in January after recalling several in December due to possible salmonella contamination. This comprehensive list included more than 20 granola, protein and grain bars, breakfast cereals, instant oatmeal and snack mixes sold in all 50 states. However, no side effects have been reported.

Large number

48 million. That’s how many Americans have the CDC estimates become ill every year due to foodborne illness, totaling one in six Americans. Of that number, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.

Important background

Food is recalled in four ways, according to the report. One way is for consumers to get sick, seek medical attention, and then local officials or the CDC test fluids and trace an outbreak to a specific food item; another is for consumers to complain to companies or regulators; a third is local, state, or federal officials discovering a problem through investigations or routine surveillance; and the other method is for companies to report a problem themselves after testing. The FDA regulates around 78% of the nation’s food supply, and the oversight includes everything except meat, poultry and some fish and egg products, which are regulated by the USDA. According to the report, the FDA was behind 224 recalls in 2023, while the USDA was responsible for 89 recalls. While the number of FDA recalls remained virtually unchanged, the number of USDA recalls increased 31% in 2023 compared to 2022 – the highest level since 2019.

Read further

Costco, Trader Joe’s and Walmart recall dairy products due to Listeria outbreak – what you need to know (Forbes)

Lead-poisoned applesauce: Ecuadorian cinnamon processor ‘likely source’ behind recalled pouches, says FDA (Forbes)

Trader Joe’s Cashew Nut Recall: Product Withdrawn in 16 States Due to Salmonella Concerns (Forbes)