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Food Safety Pro tells you everything you need to know about food recalls


Photo: Ted Morrison / Getty Images

In 2018, the FDA reported 24 outbreaks of food outbreaks in multiple states – the highest since online reporting began chicken salad, pre-cut melon, eggs, dried coconut, raw sprouts, raw turkeys, scribbled and goldfish crackers, and Kellogg's cereal are just a few examples from the laundry list of recalls last year due to salmonella, and of course there it's the well-known romaine lettuce recall due to e coli has sickened 172 people in 32 states.

Not even a month in 201

9, the recall madness has begun. Just last week, Perdue remembered her gluten-free chicken nuggets contaminated with wood particles. This week, General Mills recalled her five-pound flour sacks for salmonella fears. Yikes.

Listening to the news now almost sounds like a week can be frightening and confusing – is not our food supply as safe as it used to be? Or are we just hearing more about these outbreaks of increased awareness? Is it a problem with the farms, processing plants or distribution? Here is the full measuring spoon.

How to Recall Foods

All food and nutritional supplements are subject to the FDA's mandatory recall authority, with the exception of infant formulas (for which separate prescriptions apply). Thanks to a law passed seven years ago, the FDA has the power to initiate a recall of food if there is reason to believe that the food has been falsified or misidentified, or could have serious health consequences. Yet they have done this only once. Recalls are typically voluntary when a food company identifies a problem (eg the wood in chicken nuggets scenario) that may be harmful to the public when it consumes the food. The company will then work with the FDA to warn the public.

A food-borne outbreak is defined as an incident when two or more people become ill after eating the same contaminated food or drink. It is quite difficult to link outbreaks of food-borne illnesses with the original source, but with the expanded technical capabilities in recent years, the government is now better able to detect a specific burden of a pathogen and connect diseases with different people in different states , (Associated: Is the food delivery service in meal sets actually safe to eat?)

It may still be a challenge for civil servants to quickly pinpoint the origin of an outbreak (as was the case recently with a Romaine outbreak in late 2018) Overall, with new laws and new technologies, the FDA is able to take less reactive and proactive measures to prevent food-borne illnesses […] before they occur.

Food Processor Recalls

As a food safety expert and professor, over the past decade I have visited numerous food processing companies in the United States. Rest assured, they follow very strict rules and regulations to best prevent the biological, chemical and physical contamination of food. Amazingly, I find the facilities cleaner than most consumer kitchens.

Obviously, the recalls we hear about are the exception to this rule. In June 2018, more than 11 million boxes of Kellogg's Honey Smacks were recalled due to salmonella (the infection spread to 36 states with 135 cases and 34 hospital stays) and the facility was closed.

In addition to outbreaks of infection, the machine can also break off in the food processing chain. (See: Jimmy Dean Recalls Nearly 30,000 Pounds of Sausage That May Contain Metal.) Most, however, have technology in place to prevent this: During a visit to a triple lettuce facility in California, the facility had metal detectors in place To ensure these pieces of metal drying equipment (after washing the salad, it is dried) do not break off and do not fall into the foods.

Conclusion: Even if there are many contamination barriers to ensure a safe food supply, mistakes sometimes happen and nothing is 100% foolproof. Fortunately, food processing companies are working diligently to ensure that any problems that arise are addressed and action taken to prevent them from happening again.

Agricultural Food Recalls

After a breakout of something like romaine lettuce, people often look for a fall man and hard-working farmers are in the line of fire, but farmers do not necessarily see them as the worst.

"Recalls happen when we hear of a quality problem or contamination after leaving fields or plants, they are quite rare, but recalling products is an important measure when a problem is affecting our consumers," says John Boelts, a salad farmer for Desert Premium Farms in Yuma, Arizona, where the first recall of romaine lettuce was made.

"I would be worried if there were no voluntary callbacks," he adds. Boelts sees recalls as a way for farmers to continually share ideas and best practices to ensure that the food they grow is as safe as possible.

According to David Gill, Partner at Rio Farms, King City, we hear more about it. Recall is "out of excess caution" – rather than a change in the actual security of cultures. "But industry is still working on better ways to make our food supply safer," he adds.

Some ways you can do this since the outbreak of Romaine lettuce? Farmers have fenced their fields, created buffer zones from all livestock, and have food safety personnel to patrol fields, set rodent traps, visually inspect fields, and keep extensive records. They trained all employees to learn about animal intrusion or food safety and to test all leafy vegetables for pathogens before harvesting, he says. They also conduct annual audits by third parties who review their records and records. Groups like the Leaf Greens Marketing Association also help ensure safe leafy vegetables – and similar groups exist in several agricultural industries.

Boelts says, despite the alarming number of recalls we hear about, "the public should feel safe in our food supply." (See: This revolting FDA report will change the way you eat your plane

As a food scientist and food safety expert, I can tell you that I agree with him.

For the past decade, I've been visiting lettuce, peanuts, tart cherries, strawberries, quinoa, almonds, beef, dairy, and many other US farms talked to dozens of farmers, processors, and packers. I've seen for myself that American farmers and ranchers are doing everything they can to grow and deliver safe food.

Steps You Can Take Home to Make Sure Your Foods Are Safe

The FDA publishes a list of product recalls You can also transfer this information directly to your inbox by signing up for alerts Log back on food. When a callback occurs, certain details, including the name and code of the food, and the actions to be taken are listed. It is often recommended that consumers return the product to the retailer for reimbursement or return.

Of course, there are steps you should take in your own kitchen to make sure the food you serve is safe. (Yes, if you wash your avocados before eating to remove bacteria.) This includes cooking the food to the correct minimum internal temperatures, storing the food in the refrigerator, keeping the worktops from contaminants during food preparation, and compliance with personal hygiene when preparing food (such as washing hands after using the toilet).

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