Food recalls can be unnerving. Products you’ve been buying weekly on your grocery run have the potential to make you sick, and you only find out after the fact. When you buy packaged food, you expect it to be safe — though perhaps not all that healthy — and the thought that there might be potential illness, metal, or even glass shards inside is horrifying at best. Not every recall is deadly, however. Many recalls are issued simply as a precaution.
Perhaps a single package was suspected of contamination, for instance, and the company recalled the entire batch just to be sure. Or perhaps an ingredient was omitted on the label, causing concern for people with allergies or intolerances to certain foods.
You can glean the severity of a recall by looking at what class it’s called — the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives each official recall a classification based on how dangerous it really is for consumers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, one in six Americans gets sick from their food, though — and when recalls involve foodborne pathogens like listeria or salmonella, things can be deadly. Some foods are more likely to give you salmonella than others, which is why things like chicken and other forms of meat are recalled more often.
While products are recalled all the time for relatively benign reasons, this year revealed some glaring oversights in the food industry. Here are 2017’s biggest food recalls and why they happened.
Tyson, a huge purveyor of frozen chicken, recalled a staggering 2.4 million pounds of chicken patties and fritters in the summer of 2017. They weren’t infected with salmonella or any other foodborne illness — they simply contained milk and the packaging didn’t warn those with a lactose allergy. Since these dairy allergies can be deadly, Tyson was quick to correct this labeling snafu.
Some dog foods are healthier than others, and usually Blue Buffalo is a good choice for most dogs. But this particular batch wasn’t — it contained elevated levels of “naturally occurring” beef thyroid hormones. We’re not sure what those are, but it sounds like something you do not want to feed your pet.
Cashews are a great snack food for diabetics and could even lower your blood pressure, but the health perks of this batch were not worth the risk. Aldi recalled cashews from 28 states because they contained glass shards. Something we didn’t know about Aldi: At least in this case, their healthy snack canisters could have been deadly.
This recall was so severe it was labeled “Class 1” with a high level of risk. OK Food recalled nearly a million pounds of breaded pre-prepared chicken after five customers found metal in their food. We bet these consumers really wish they’d gone out for some amazing fresh fried chicken instead.
Some coffee products are manufactured to work as a male enhancement drug, but this one was not advertised that way. Bestherbs Coffee LLC recalled the entire batch of its “New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Natural Herbs Coffee” because it contained desmethyl carbodenafil, similar to the sildenafil in Viagra. Though most consumers probably didn’t expect much more than a caffeine boost from their coffee, the FDA claimed that consumers shouldn’t have been surprised at the extra excitement.
Here’s one more gigantic reason you should wash your bagged lettuce before you eat it. A decomposing bat was found in a Fresh Express prepackaged salad at a Florida Walmart this past spring. Luckily, the consumers affected “report being in good health and neither has any signs of rabies,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But apparently, the nightmare of wildlife infiltrating our bagged lettuce is far from over — one woman recently found a frog in her packaged mix.
While bread isn’t really as bad for you as some would have you believe, there are flours on the market that have a sketchy history of production. This batch, from Smucker Food, was contaminated with possible E. coli before nationwide distribution. The result was a massive recall affecting all 50 states.
All sushi must be frozen prior to serving — but that didn’t save this batch of raw tuna from infestation. Sustainable Seafood Company and Santa Cruz Seafood Inc. issued a recall on their frozen fish products nationwide after they found traces of hepatitis A.
Hot dogs always have a lot more gross ingredients than you think. But these had a little something extra. Cartilage and bones were found in Sabrett hot dogs in July, prompting a massive recall.
That wasn’t the only unfortunate ingredient people found in hot dogs this year. Nathan’s and Curtis, two of the most popular hot dog brands on the market (though not the healthiest) recalled millions of beef franks for potential metal contamination. Mac and cheese on a hot dog? Fine. But we draw the line at aluminum.
Death Wish Coffee wasn’t kidding when they came up with the name of their company. After investigating their Nitro Cold Brew product, they discovered the cans could be ripe for contamination with the deadly neurotoxin that causes botulism. Botulism’s terrifying symptoms are among the worst, most disturbing effects of food poisoning.
This is nacho average recall. Nacho cheese and longhorn colby cheese were both voluntarily recalled by Sargento after their supplier confessed there was potential for listeria contamination. Sargento only ranked No. 9 on our shredded cheese taste test — but we think it deserves a bump down after this incident.
Publix is the favorite grocery store of Floridians. (You can find the best supermarket in your state here.) The chain issued a recall of their premade “Homestyle Beef Pot Roast” because, due to a packaging error, the contents of any of the sealed packages could actually be meatloaf. They weren’t sure — so they recalled them all.
In January, six different spaghetti and meatball products, including the famous Chef Boyardee, were recalled over mislabeling. Milk was not listed as an ingredient on the label. There are definitely better options out there than the canned stuff, anyway — for serious spaghetti and meatball lovers, here are America’s best versions of the dish.