Dr. Oz triggered fear in parents with his claim that there is arsenic in apple juice. After further investigation by the FDA, it has been concluded that the low levels of arsenic in apple juice are okay for consumption and parents can continue to feed them to their children. Apparently, arsenic is naturally present in food, water and air in both organic and non-organic forms. As long as the arsenic is organic, it’s basically harmless.
While the anxiety over arsenic in Mott’s apple juice has turned out to be a non-issue, another fruit is the focus of the latest food recall: Cantaloupes from a Colorado farm are infected with Listeria, a bacteria found in soil, stream water, plants, sewage and food. The outbreak has already killed two people and left another 22 sick. Infections caused by Listeria are potentially fatal. Yikes! Who would have thought that a melon could kill you?
These two stories inspired me to write about food recalls. Thinking back, there have been several recalls lately. Spinach
Back in April 2011, the FDA and Fresh Express recalled 9,000 bags of spinach due to Salmonella contamination. I remember this clearly because I love spinach and even though the spinach at Trader Joe’s wasn’t part of the recall, I was still hesitant to purchase any. If you remember, this wasn’t the first time that spinach got recalled. There was the huge recall back in September 2006 thanks to the E. coli O157:H7 which made over 200 people ill nationwide and killed three. It’s quite disgusting to know that animal’s feces were responsible for this outbreak. I know for a fact I avoided spinach for a good few months.
In August 2010, there was a huge egg recall due to another salmonella outbreak. 380 million eggs were recalled and it was dubbed the largest egg recall in recent history. This affected numerous egg brands including Ralph’s, Albertsons, Von’s, Lucerne, Sunshine, Farm Fresh and Mountain Dairy. I remember getting Sunshine eggs from Trader Joe’s (yes, I love TJs) and having to toss them after reading about the recall. In retrospect, I could have taken them back to the store and received a full refund ($1.99) and I’m sure many people did. Even though salmonella can be killed when you cook the egg fully, it’s still a risk that I didn’t want to take.
Romaine lettuce from Freshway Foods was recalled back in May 2010 in 23 states for E. coli. That bacteria sure does get around. The strain was found in one of those prepackaged salad bags. Three people had potential life threatening complications from the tainted lettuce along with several other cases. Since I’m not much of a lettuce fan this didn’t really affect me, but it did make me more aware and scared of buying lettuce!
Just last month, Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey due to contamination from salmonella. It killed one person and made 76 others sick across 26 states. Customers who purchased the tainted turkey were offered a full refund when they returned to the store they bought it from. I actually bought some from Trader Joe’s, but there was no recall for those so I was fine.
Actually, Cargill just issued another ground turkey recall on September 14th. Please check out their turkey recall site to see if you are affected. You can also call their customer relations hotline at (888) 812-1646. Be safe!
August 2011 was a popular month for meat recalls. 60,000 pounds of ground beef were recalled last month in the Southeast at Publix, Walmart, Winn Dixie and Kroger. Yikes! That’s a lot of hamburgers that went into the trash. This affected people living in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. In December 2010, 34,000 pounds of ground beef contaminated with E. coli were pulled from six states. All these meat recalls makes me not want to eat meat. I actually haven’t bought ground beef in years just because of this.
If you are concerned about food recalls, the Food Safety site lists all the recent recalls. You can even set up alerts to be notified on your cell phone. Produce and meats are the most common recalls due to their close proximity to each other. Fertilizer is used to grow produce and meats, well, that’s self-explanatory. Another good resource to check is the FDA recalls site.
What are some food recalls you remember or affected you? What are some measures you take to protect yourself and your loved ones? What are your thoughts on buying organic produce even though it is more expensive?