When you purchase food from the grocery store or market, you trust that it is safe to consume. You shouldn’t have to worry about health concerns related to the foods you eat, but unfortunately, food recalls prove otherwise.
The food recalls of 2023 have taught us valuable lessons about food processing and sanitation. Learn which foods posed the most risk to your health this past year — and what to do if you consumed them.
In March 2023, the FDA recalled several brands of organic strawberries for potential hepatitis A contamination. The brands Kirkland Signature, Simply Nature, Vital Choice, and others experienced hepatitis A outbreaks somewhere in the manufacturing process.
The FDA exercised caution by recalling these products to prevent widespread hepatitis A outbreaks among the public.
Listeria is a serious foodborne illness that can cause dangerous or even fatal infections. Children, seniors, and immunocompromised people are especially susceptible to complications from listeria. Biltmore Smoked Sockeye Salmon was found to be potentially contaminated with listeria, causing a recall in March 2023 and adding the salmon to the food recalls of 2023 list.
Another culprit of listeria in April 2023 was bagged lettuce and salad kits from several different brands.
The FDA issued a recall on these products, claiming that many batches could be contaminated with listeria. This was one of the more notable food recalls of 2023, as many different brands and products contained affected lettuce and salad kit ingredients.
Ground cumin from Lipari Foods was found to be potentially contaminated with salmonella, which can lead to many secondary infections and serious health problems, along with immediate gastrointestinal symptoms. North Carolina was among the many states where the contaminated ground cumin products were sold.
Several blends of frozen fruit that contained mango chunks were recalled due to possible listeria contamination in June 2023. These Private Selection products were distributed to Kroger stores in states surrounding North Carolina, most notably South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.
Due to the potential presence of wood chips and fragments, the FDA recalled batches of Nestle chocolate chip cookie dough. The specific product in question was their Break and Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar.
Just recently, Coca-Cola brand recalled a total of 2,000 Diet Coke, Fanta, and Sprite cases due to possible contamination. While this currently only affects three states (Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi), be mindful about what you are currently purchasing from the grocery store. The affected cases also consisted of 12-packs and were said to potentially contain “foreign material.”
Sometimes, we eat recalled products without knowing it. If you ate any of the recalled foods on the FDA’s list in 2023 and had symptoms of foodborne illness, it’s important to report it to your local health department and contact the brand in question to help them gather data about the recalled products.
You should always seek medical attention right away if you suspect you have a foodborne illness. This is especially important if you have a weakened immune system, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or belong to vulnerable groups (like seniors and children).
As you can see, some of the products recalled in 2023 were labeled as organic. Many consumers believe that organic foods are safer and healthier to eat. However, there are still many potential problems with the organic food industry.
Cases like the Nuez De La India Seeds from Todorganic show that even organic products can harm your health.
Buying organic doesn’t necessarily mean you and your family are getting safer, healthier products. As 2023 has shown us, you can still be exposed to harmful compounds and pathogens eating organic products.
In the future, always check food recalls before consuming your products. You can return recalled products to the store for a full refund when this happens, provided you have your receipt. Keep yourself and your family safe from contaminated foods in the upcoming year.
Wondering what are best practices to safeguard your family against food recalls that could be in our future. Here are some of best practices that the Toe River Health District team recommends:
Certainly! Here’s an easy-to-digest list of best practices to stay safe from potentially contaminated foods:
Wash Hands Thoroughly: Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling food. Make sure to create a lather first and wash them for at a minimum of 20 seconds.
Check Expiration Dates: This may seem like an obvious one but a lot of people fail to do this. You definitely want to discard anything that has expired, especially if it smells odd, has developed mold, or looks like it may have changed color or consistency.
Store Food Properly: Make sure to refrigerate perishable foods promptly. If they need to be refrigerated, best to get them into the cold fridge (below 40 degrees) as soon as possible.
Be Extra Cautious with Raw Food: If consuming raw seafood, make sure it is labeled as sushi-grade and purchased from a reputable source.
Clean Utensils and Surfaces: Make sure to make it a habit to thoroughly wash your utensils, cutting boards, and any cutlery to prevent chance of cross-contamination.
These are just some of the suggestions but they are by no means exhaustive. For more detail, head to the CDC.