We're halfway into 2014, and already there have been nearly 30 recalls by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which monitors meat, poultry, and eggs) and about 125 food-related recalls from the Food and Drug Administration (which monitors everything else). News reports make recalls seem like an alert for violent illnesses to come, but most recalls are a result of mislabeling – like forgetting an ingredient or calling something "gluten free" when it isn't.
There are plenty of recalls related to nasty pathogens in our food, but those typically only severely impact consumers who are more susceptible to foodborne diseases. "As far as microbiological recalls, pay attention to it if you're at more risk," says Lynne McLandsborough, associate professor of food microbiology at University of Massachusetts Amherst. "If you're immunocompromised, if you're elderly, if you're going to be feeding these items to a child, then you should pay attention."
For the average Joe, cooking each meal thoroughly (a challenge with fruits and veggies) is the easiest way to prevent against foodborne illnesses. Here's a round-up of the most dangerous foods out there, and a few tips for how to enjoy them safely.
Beef has been a real headline-maker this year with two massive recalls. In May, the Wolverine Packing Company in Detroit, Michigan recalled 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that were potentially contaminated by E. coli 0157:H7, which is among the top five pathogens that contribute to hospitalization from foodborne illness. The second big recall came out of Petaluma, California's Rancho Feeding Corporation and involved nearly nine million pounds of beef and veal products. They were found processing diseased and unsound animals without inspection.
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