Why It Might Feel Like There Has Been An Increase In Food Recalls

Just a short while ago, shoppers had to check their cabinets for a slew of tainted onions linked to a salmonella outbreak, per USA Today. Around the same time, Kraft Heinz decided to voluntarily recall a bunch of its powdered drink products, including Country Time Lemonade and Tang, due to the possibility of glass or metal shards that might have accidentally made it into the mixes (via FDA). With a parade of food contamination news happening seemingly every week, it might feel like food recalls have risen in recent times. So, what's going on?

You aren't alone if you feel this way. According to Eat This, Not That!, food recalls between 2009 and 2013 increased 125% when compared to 2004 to 2008. Generally speaking, three different triggers can cause a recall: pathogenic contamination, physical contamination, or misbranding. Pathogenic contamination occurs when bacteria or viruses proliferate within a food, while physical contamination constitutes foreign objects the food. Meanwhile, mislabelling occurs when specific items don't list particular allergens. 

But is it all that bad? Thanks to some specific modernization efforts and regulatory reforms, consumers and food inspectors can catch these issues much more easily.

A better way to monitor food quality

It might feel like recalls happen more than ever. In actuality, you just hear about these issues more quickly thanks to better safety measures. Social media also arguably helps to spread the news more quickly than in the past

Eat This, Not That! reports that the Food Safety Modernization Act and a process known as whole genome sequencing allows customers and producers to identify defects quickly and easily. The act requires that food producers have preventative control measures in place. Meanwhile, safety rules for produce have gotten more detailed, FDA inspections happen more frequently, and food producers must keep better and more accessible records. What's more, the FDA can now issue mandatory recalls if it determines that a company is acting negligently.

Everyone in the U.S. can sleep better knowing that food protection standards have only gotten better over the years. So, the next time you see another major recall making headlines, take heart knowing that the issue was most likely caught just in time. You can enjoy feeling that much more secure when you go grocery shopping.