Romaine, eggs, frozen broccoli, cereal, crackers...the list of food products impacted by recalls recently is extensive and even a little exhausting.
When we're constantly bombarded by news alerts about recalled foods it can start to feel like our food supply chain isn't safe, and worse, consumers can develop recall fatigue, a phrase experts use to describe what happens when people are just tuning out or ignoring recall information because all the recalls have just blurred together for them.
It is important to be aware of which products are being recalled and why, and we shouldn't be scared. The frequency of recalls actually suggests that the way food-borne illnesses and contamination are being tracked and traced is improving, and so is the safety of the food we're feeding our kids.
The recent recall of Goldfish crackers is a great example of this. No illnesses were reported when Pepperidge Farm voluntarily recalled several varieties of Goldfish. It was done out of an abundance of caution and to avoid people becoming sick, not because people were.
"I think companies are maybe doing a better job of reporting those things," Lana Nwadike, a food safety specialist with Kansas State University and the University of Missouri, recently told Illinois Newsroom.
Her comments echo those Dr. William Hallman, professor and chair of Rutgers Department of Human Ecology, made in an interview with Food Drive last year. "It reflects a food industry that takes contamination and foodborne illnesses seriously. Increasingly companies are willing to recall their products rather than expose customers to potential harm," he told Food Drive. "So more companies are taking a cautionary approach even when the products they produce have not been definitively linked to an outbreak."
Sometimes, though, consumers don't get so lucky. In another recent recall case, that of Kellogg's Honey Smacks cereal, 100 people became ill after eating the cereal, some even after it had been recalled.
That is why we've got to try our best to fight against recall fatigue. The recalls don't always mean our families aren't safe, but they can help us keep them safe.
Here are six recalls parents need to know about this summer:
1. Kellog's Honey Smacks
Like we said, this cereal was originally recalled in June due to an outbreak of salmonella, but even after the recall, people kept getting sick. By July 12, 100 people had fallen ill and the CDC had to go a step further and warn the public to not eat, sell or buy the cereal, regardless of the best before date or UPC code.
2. Ritz Cracker sandwiches and Ritz Bits.
Sometimes a recall leads to more recalls, which was the case in the recent Ritz cracker recall, which occurred after the whey powder used in the crackers was recalled by its supplier due to the potential presence of Salmonella.
The recall impacts the sandwich-style Ritz varieties, including the individually packaged cups and bags of cheese-flavored Ritz Bits.
Mondelēz Global has recalled 16 varieties of Ritz Cracker Sandwiches and Ritz Bits Product in the U.S. (as well as five cheese and pizza flavors in Canada). The company says no illnesses have been reported.
3. Some varieties of Goldfish crackers
The same whey powder recall that lead to the Ritz recall is what prompted Pepperidge Farms to pull four flavors of Goldfish crackers, Goldfish Baked with Whole Grain Xtra Cheddar, Goldfish Mix Xtra Cheddar + Pretzel, as well as the Flavor Blasted Xtra Cheddar and Flavor Blasted Sour Cream & Onion varieties. The precautionary measure seems to have worked as the company has not reported an illnesses.
4. McDonalds salads
According to a statement from McDonalds, "the FDA, CDC, along with state and local officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of cyclosporiasis illnesses likely linked to salads from McDonald's restaurants in 10 states."
As of August 2, 2018, 395 laboratory-confirmed cases of Cyclospora infection were reported in people who consumed salads from McDonald's restaurants, according to the CDC.
McDonalds temporarily stopped selling salads at some stores until a safe lettuce supply was sourced.
5. Certain lettuce-based salads and wraps from various retailers
The same lettuce supplier linked to the McDonalds outbreak, Fresh Express, is the subject of an a U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) public health alert issued in an "abundance of caution" regarding contamination with Cyclospora.The impacted products are salads and wraps sold at retailers including Kroger, Trader Joe's and Walgreens.
6. Almond Breeze
Parasites like Cyclospora aren't the only contaminant that can cause a product to be recalled. Undeclared allergens may be totally safe for some consumers, but quite dangerous to others. That's why some Almond Breeze almond milk is being recalled. Half-gallon Vanilla Almond Breeze cartons with a use by date of September 2 may contain dairy. According to the FDA, there has been one report of an allergic reaction.