7 Biggest Food Recalls in the U.S.

July 25, 2017

Some of the most famous food recalls in American history

A recall from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) can be a nightmare for any food company.

Even with stricter FDA and USDA regulations food recalls still happen.

It seems like every year there is another huge product  recall caused by a manufacturer’s negligence or some strange occurrence leading to tainted food.

Here are 7 of the biggest food recalls in U.S. history.

Freshway Foods’ Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce product recall

In April 2010 several cases of E. Coli 0145 bacteria were being reported in multiple states, a few of them being students from Ohio State University, Daemen College in NY, and the University of Michigan.

Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce that had been served in a school district in NY was tested and came back as positive for  E.Coli.

Freshway Foods issued a voluntarily recall of various lettuce bags.

They found that the outbreak traced back to a farm in Yuma, AZ and a second independent strain was also found, but not linked to any known food-borne illness. The lettuce had been shipped to over 20 states but mostly affected those in NY, MI, and OH. Overall, more than 30 people became sick due to the outbreak.

Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough

Nestle cookie dough recall

Numerous people over 29 states reported becoming ill after eating Nestle Toll House cookie dough in June 2009.

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent out an announcement warning consumers to not eat any Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough. The FDA had found E. Coli bacteria in a sample of the cookie dough, but oddly enough it was a different type of E. Coli that had been making consumers sick. Over 75 people had been infected, and 35 people were hospitalized. 11 of those 35 had serious complications, but no one died.

Nestle did a voluntary recall of over 300,000 cases of cookie dough as a precaution, even before the cookie dough tested positive.

Representatives from Nestle Toll House acknowledged the outbreak but reminded consumers that is important to cook cookie dough, and not eat it raw. After the recall, Nestle added “new batch” on the packaging of their cooking dough to distinguish which products were safe to consume.

Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms

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The largest egg recall ever in U.S. history happened in 2010 when over half a billion eggs were recalled.

There were 2,000 cases of people who got sick after eating the eggs reported, due to an outbreak of salmonella. The outbreak was blamed on two farms in Iowa, Hillandale Farms and Wright County Egg.

To make the situation worse, both of the farms were linked to employment, hearth, and safety violations. Wright County Egg was even reported for having employees handle dead chickens and manure with their bare hands. Somehow neither farm had never been inspected by the FDA, the Department of Agriculture, or the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. This quickly changed after the egg recall.

Kraft Chicken Strips

Kraft Foods Inc. issued a recall for meat products when one of their external manufactures issued a recall due to a finding of Listeria in a single package of Oscar  Mayer/Louis Rich Chicken Strips.

It started with 52,650 lbs of chicken strips being recalled, but later an additional whopping 2.8 million lbs of chicken strips were recalled. This included 8 different types of chicken strips, but luckily no illnesses were ever reported.

Cargill Meat Solutions Ground Turkey

worst food recalls ever

Back in 2011, Cargill Meat recalled an estimated 36 million lbs of ground turkey because of a possible salmonella contamination.

This was one of the largest food recalls and the president of the National Turkey Federation at the time, Joel Brandenburger, compared it to the weight of more than 36 fully-loaded Boeing 747 airplanes.

Unfortunately, one person was killed and over 75 people became ill before the salmonella was linked to the ground turkey. And as if the 36 million lbs wasn’t enough, they called an additional 185,000 lbs of meat the following month.

Menu Foods’ Pet Food

It’s not just human food that can get contaminated.

Menu Foods issued a massive recall of pet food products after their products were linked to thousands of deaths and kidney-related illness in dogs and cats. The FDA received over 14,000 complaints from pet owners in less than a month.

Originally, reports suggested that the contamination was due to a type of rat poison that had been used as a pesticide received from a foreign supplier. But FDA testing didn’t find any rat poison in Menu Foods’ products.

Later, it was discovered the wheat gluten in the pet food was tainted with melamine, purchased from a supplier in China.

California Bagged Spinach

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Last, but not least, was an outbreak of E. Coli bacteria found in bagged spinach.

The outbreak originated on a farm in California who unfortunately distributed spinach to over half of the U.S. More than 200 people became ill and multiple deaths were a result of the outbreak. The FDA called all bagged spinach to be removed from shelves and warned consumers to not eat any spinach.

This recall didn’t affect just one company, but the leafy green industry as a whole. The outbreak cost the industry over $350 million and hurt farmers across the nation,