Where To Find Out About Food Recalls

Recently, seven tons of hummus were recalled from places like Trader Joe's due to possible listeria contamination. Nine hundred tons of beef were recalled after an outbreak of E.coli. Kraft decided to recall 1.2 million cases of their cottage cheese after it was discovered they weren't being stored at the correct temperature. In short, it was a scary time in the world of food safety.

But did you know that these were only three of the nine food recalls this past week? Not all of them get reported on a massive scale, which means it's up to the consumer to stay aware of the latest in recall announcements. Luckily, there's an easy way to do that.

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First off, here are the other food recalls you may have missed this week:

1. Sherman Produce from St. Louis recalled over 6,000 pounds of walnuts because they may have been contaminated by listeria.

2. The Middle East Bakery from Maine recalled their Market Basket Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Pancakes because they contain unlabeled milk, making this a big risk for those with dairy allergies.

3. WhiteWave Foods recalled 21,402 half-gallon containers of their popular Silk Light Original Soy Milk, also because of labeling issues. In this case, it contained unlabeled almond milk, putting people with nut allergies at risk.

4. The American Waffle Company recalled 480 cases of their Gluten-Free Blueberry Pancakes because they also contained "undeclared milk."

5. Prime Pak Foods recalled 23,250 pounds of chicken breasts and tenders because their recipe contained milk, eggs, and wheat that was not announced on the label.

6. Transatlantic Foods recalled 449,000 pounds of pork because of labels saying they contained no antibiotics. Turns out, this wasn't the case at all.

Just by looking at the above recalls, you can figure out a few reasons why these recalls didn't quite crack the newspaper front pages.

Primary is the number of illnesses reported, which are very low or nonexistent. While all recalls are technically considered preventative -- as in, they're issued in order to prevent further illnesses -- the above low-reported recalls lack a large number of reported illnesses. At the most, one person reported being sick from contamination or by ingesting an allergen. Mostly, the recalls were issued because of the possibility of future illnesses. As the old saying goes, "if it bleeds, it leads." And if it doesn't even get sick, it doesn't get covered.

Another thing to look at is that most of the above cases are labeling issues that "only" affects people with allergens. Large scale contaminations like listeria or E.coli make news cycles because of the possibility of affecting large populations. It may not be fair, but that's the reality.

All that said, there is a way to get the above information easily, and that's through the FoodSafety.gov website. They keep a constantly updated list of food recalls that have been issued. If you want to be cautious, go ahead and bookmark that page and check it every so often. Or, you can sign up to receive an automatic email alert or text on your mobile phone whenever a food has been recalled.

Either option is smart, especially if you have a food allergy. As you can tell from above, mislabeling of allergens is a pretty consistent concern, and one that's not necessarily going to be covered by the media.

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About the Author

Rick Paulas has written plenty of things, some of them serious, many of them not, scattered over the vast expanses of the Internet. He lives in Los Angeles and is a White Sox fan.
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