According to a recent article by Yahoo! Health, there have been 737 recalls of food since January 2014 alone by the Food and Drug Administration. Many of the recalls have been due to undeclared allergen ingredients (ex: nuts) or a confirmed contamination.
However, some companies have sold contaminated food more often than others. According to that same article, Whole Foods is at the top of a list of companies that have been forced to recall food. Since the beginning of 2014, Whole Foods has had 26 store-brand products recalled. What is alarming is that even though Whole Foods accounts for the store with the highest number of recalls, they still only account for 3% of all recalls issued in the United States during that time period. This means that recalls are not just centralized by one offender, but are unfortunately spread out among many grocers and sellers, suggesting that there may be no one seller that hasn’t been culpable of providing dangerous products to consumers.
Recently, food safety has been a major issue throughout the United States. According to the same article, just in the month of April, a large and diverse array of food products has required recall for food poisoning and safety concerns. These have included hummus, ice cream, and a variety of dairy products. The article relayed that many recalls have also involved prepared foods. Since 2014, 10% of recalls have included ready-made meals – a type of convenience food where you can purchase an already prepared meal from your local grocery store that they have prepared for customers.
Foodborne illnesses can manifest in a variety of ways, often causing illness to the individual and at times even serious injury as a result. Some common pathogenic causes of serious illness or death due to foodborne illness include salmonella, e. coli, listeria, norovirus, and hepatitis A. Those at the highest risk include the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and infants, and pregnant women. Symptoms vary among each victim, but commonly people may suffer nausea, cramping, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In serious cases, the illness can also lead to severe injuries, such as one case where our attorneys represented conference attendees who suffering crippling arthritic injuries as a result of contracting salmonella poisoning.
Food poisoning is a serious issue because when consumers purchase food from stores, they are trusting they are purchasing a source of nutrition and nourishment and an item that is safe for consumption. With regulations in place, people trust – as they should be able to – that their food has been inspected and will not cause them harm. However, when companies are negligent in food packaging and preparation, and fail to discover defects and dangers thereby allowing these contaminated products to enter the marketplace, people can suffer serious injury and food poisoning. It is the legal duty to inspect goods for dangers, remove them from the stream of commerce when discovered, and warn consumers of known dangers, but when companies fail in this regard, they breach their legal duty and put consumers in harm’s way.