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.
If an animal product recall isn't about beef, it's probably about chicken. So far this year there have been about a dozen chicken product recalls, amounting in approximately 1.5 million pounds of recalled poultry. Chicken recalls can be serious because it is a notorious host for Salmonella and Campylobacter. People infected with Salmonella often experience abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and fever. Salmonella is also the deadliest of the foodborne illnesses, killing about 450 people each year. Campylobacter infections can cause diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting. About 76 people die of campylobacteriosis each year.
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