There are a lot of things we want in our homes. Unarguably, good food is one of the most important things.
But food recalls are happening with increasing frequency. People are getting sick from the food we are purchasing and storing in our refrigerators, cupboards, counters, freezers and other storage places commonly (or not so commonly) used.
Nearly every day there is some company or food store chain that is issuing a recall on some food product. Recent ones have been on onions and dairy products, and there always seems to be a recall of some sort on romaine lettuce!
The website, foodsafety.gov, lists all known outbreaks and even has a widget so you can track them as they are reported.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported eight recalled food items since the first of October: (from the widget)
Flowers Foods Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Soy in Certain TastyKake and Mrs. Freshley's Glazed Pies Oct 7, 2022
Cut Fruit Express Recalls Caribou Coffee Fruit and Cheese Plate Because of Possible Health Risk Oct 7, 2022
Cuisine Innovations Unlimited, LLC Issues Voluntary Recall of Two Varieties of Earth Grown Frozen Falafel Due to Possible Health Risk Oct 7, 2022
Lipari Foods Issues Voluntary Product Recall of Specific Sesame Sticks Mix and Roasted/Salted Sunflower Meat Tubs Due to Undeclared Cashew Allergen Oct 7, 2022
Bakkavor USA Issues Allergy Alert for 32 Ounce Meal Simple Tomato Basil Soup for Mislabeling and Undeclared Dairy Oct 6, 2022
Old Europe Cheese, Inc. Expands Voluntary Recall of Its Brie Cheeses Due to Possible Health Risk Oct 5, 2022
Swiss American Participates in Manufacturer Old Europe's Recall of Brie and Camembert Oct 4, 2022
FSIS Issues Public Health Alert for Ready-To-Eat Chili Cheese Wieners Due to Possible Listeria Contamination Oct 1, 2022
While not all of these would affect everyone, for example, I don't have soy, cashew, or dairy allergies so those wouldn't bother me at all. But for those who do have allergies to those items, those undeclared ingredients or mislabeled packages could be fatal!
For the rest of us, the ones with a possible health risk or something like Listeria, Salmonella, or other contaminants can be anywhere from a mild inconvenience to possibly life-threatening.
Just how big a deal is this?
The Public Interest Research Group reported in 2019 that the "total number of food recalls in the United States increased by 10% between 2013 and 2018. The peak at the time of that report was hit in 2016 with 905 recalled foods.
The same report showed that Class I recalls of meat and poultry rose by 83% during that period.
Note: A Class I recall involves a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). There are two other classes, as well.
Class II - A Class II recall involves a potential health hazard situation in which there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from eating the food.
Class III - A Class III recall involves a situation in which eating the food will not cause adverse health consequences.
According to the USDA a food recall is "a voluntary action by a manufacturer or distributor to protect the public from products that may cause health problems or possible death. A recall is intended to remove food products from commerce when there is reason to believe the products may be adulterated or misbranded."
If even one person gets sick from food that should not be sold or distributed, that makes this a problem.
But there is something else that many of us don't think about when we throw out or return a product that has been recalled. That problem is cross-contamination.
If the recalled food product is contaminated with something such as E. coli, Listeria or Salmonella, the chances of cross-contamination with other food products rises.
If the product leaks, spills, or touches any other food products (which let's face it, packaging especially for meat leaks!) you could likely be dealing with cross-contamination.
Because meat packages do have a tendency to leak it is often advised to store them on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator.
The United States Food and Drug Administration estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses each year. Those are just the reported cases. Food poisoning (another term for a foodborne illness) can lead to hospitalization or even death in some cases.
Cross-contamination can also occur at the source meaning right at the farm where the products are harvested.
According to Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director at the Center for Food Safety, "farms cultivating fresh produce may also raise livestock or border animal farms. As a result, the risk of cross-contamination from animal manure and runoff increases. Bacteria such as E. coli can contaminate the soil in which those crops are growing. For instance, the E. coli that contaminated romaine lettuce in Yuma County, Arizona, in 2018 is believed to have been sourced from a nearby cattle feedlot." (Not the one in the photo!)
How to clean up your refrigerator after a food recall
If you do find that you need to clean up your refrigerator, cupboards, countertops, etc. because of a food recall, don't panic! You just need a good sanitizer to get the job done right.
While you could use bleach, do you really want to use that in your fridge or near your food? I didn't think so!
If you have been following our blog, then you know that we recommend and stand behind Vital Oxide to clean and sanitize nearly any surface.
Vital Oxide is a multi-purpose cleaner and NSF-certified (no-rinse required) food-contact area sanitizer. Vital Oxide kills 99.9% of bacteria – including common foodborne pathogens such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella enterica, Norovirus, Staphylococcus aureus (Staph), and Listeria monocytogenes – without leaving a harmful chemical residue.
Here are several tips from the CDC on taking care of your fridge after a food recall.
How to Clean Your Refrigerator After a Food Recall Items needed to clean your refrigerator:
Hot, soapy water
Optional: water + bleach (we recommend Vital Oxide which is completely safe to use near food and on food serving areas.)
Step 1 - Throw out recalled food
Throw out the recalled food, and any other foods stored with it or touching it.
Put it in a sealed bag in the garbage.
If the recalled food was stored in a reusable container, wash the container with hot, soapy water before reusing it. Sanitize it with Vital Oxide before reusing it. To sanitize, simply spray the container with Vital Oxide and let it sit for at least 60 seconds.
Step 2 - Empty your refrigerator
Empty the rest of the items in your refrigerator and put them on a counter or table while you clean. (Hint: sanitizer the counter or table first.)
Take out shelving, drawers, and any other removable parts.
Don’t leave food out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.
Step 3 - Wash removable parts
Wash shelving, drawers, and any other removable parts by hand with hot, soapy water.
Dry with a clean towel.
Don’t run cold glass shelves or drawers under hot water because the glass could crack. Let them come to room temperature first.
Step 4 - Clean and sanitize inside the refrigerator
Thoroughly wipe the inside of the empty refrigerator with paper towels dampened with Vital Oxide to clean, making sure to completely remove any food particles, spills, crumbs, or other debris.
Dry with a clean towel.
Don’t forget to wipe inside the doors and any drawers or compartments that cannot be removed.
Step 5- Optional, but highly recommended by us After your refrigerator and drawers, shelves, and other removable parts are clean, apply Vital Oxide by wiping with a microfiber cloth or spraying, and let sit for at least 60 seconds to sanitize. Vital Oxide can be diluted for food-contact sanitizing; mix 1 part Vital Oxide with 9 parts water.
Put the shelves, drawers, and other removable parts back in the refrigerator, along with the other items you took out.
Wipe down food and drink containers with a cloth dampened with Vital Oxide before returning to the clean refrigerator.
Use a cloth dampened with Vital Oxide to wipe kitchen countertops that held refrigerator parts and contents.
Wash any towels you used to dry the refrigerator before using them again
And don’t forget:
Wash your hands with water and soap once you’ve finished cleaning.
We hope you don't need to take our advice, but if you do, rest assured that if you include Vital Oxide in the mix, you can eat off the surfaces!
If you have further questions about how to take advantage of these amazing products, please contact an agent near you. They will be happy to assist you.
Enter our contest and be a BIG winner!
Enter today! You can't win if you don't enter!