Voluntary food recalls are a shockingly common occurrence within the American food system. For example, in just the first eight days of December 2016 there have been nine foods recalls by the Food and Drug Administration, and another two by the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Food recalls can vary in degree, scope, and severity. For example if a company forgets to label a package with a certain allergen — such as “manufactured in a facility that uses egg ingredients” — that is grounds for a recall. If a company releases a product that has undeclared wheat, milk, or nuts, that too is grounds for a recall. And then there are the more serious reasons for companies to issue a recall, such as potential contamination by a harmful pathogen like listeria, E. coli, or salmonella.
The FDA does categorize recalls into different “classes,” based on their risk of adverse side effects, but let’s be real: Are you willing to risk it either way? When most people hear “food recall,” they either dump the product in the trash, or go get a refund from the supermarket.
The CDC estimates that each year, “roughly one in six Americans gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases.” Yes, these numbers are startling, but they actually pale in comparison to the number of people who suffer from, say, diabetes, which according to the CDC was responsible for 37 million patient visits to physician offices and hospitals, and 76,488 deaths in 2014.
All that said, here are the biggest food recalls of 2016.