“Americans should be confident that our food is safe and uncontaminated from dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella,” it states.
» FDA issues recalls for dry dog food
» Recall alert: RxBars recalled due to undeclared peanuts
» Recall hits millions of pounds of food from Walmart, Whole Foods, Kroger and more
Key findings from this year’s report include:
- An 83 percent increase in meat and poultry recalls that can cause serious health problems: USDA Class 1 recalls "involve a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death." This includes recalls of beef for E. coli, poultry for Salmonella and others.
- Food recalls overall increased by 10 percent between 2013-2018: From crackers to children's cereal to lettuce to meat, we've seen the total number of food recalls increase over the last six years.
- Archaic laws allow meat producers to sell contaminated products: It is currently legal to sell meat that tests positive for dangerous strains of Salmonella. A case study of the recent recall of 12 million pounds of beef sold by JBS could likely have been prevented if it this policy was changed.
- Bacteria-contaminated water used on vegetables and produce: A case study helps demonstrate how irrigation water polluted by fecal matter from a nearby cattle feedlot likely contaminated romaine lettuce with E. coli in the spring of 2018.
» E. coli outbreak: CDC warns to 'avoid all types of romaine lettuce'
» Massive beef recall expands, 12 million pounds of meat affected
» Eggs recalled due to potential salmonella contamination
» Perdue Foods recalls chicken nuggets due to possible plastic contamination
The PIRG Education Fund report says it is clear “our food safety defenses need an across-the-board upgrade.”
1. Food production and testing
- Test water used for irrigation or watering of produce for hazardous pathogens.
- Set health-based bacterial load levels for agriculture watering to prevent contamination.
2. Inspection and monitoring
- Require plants to identify most common pathogens associated with meat and poultry products as hazards likely to occur and address them in their safety plans.
- Establish clear enforcement consequences for recurring violations of food safety protections or plans.
- Update food safety standards at facilities every three years.
- Declare antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella as an adulterant in meat and poultry.
- Improve traceability throughout the food supply chain through network-based tracking technologies.
- Retailers notify consumers that products they may have in their homes are recalled.
4. Recall effectiveness
- Require disclosure of retailers selling products for all Class I and Class II recalls, establish a timeline for release of that information, and include packaged goods.
- Penalize companies who continue to sell products after a recall.
- Develop programs for retailers to directly notify customers about food recalls.