Why the Recall?
The Guardian has recently released data to help consumers tackle one frightening issue: product recalls. Many young adults can remember the great E Coli scare that left our supermarket shelves without spinach, or the Peter Pan peanut butter debacle of 2016 that removed delicious spoonfuls of peanut buttery goodness right from our mouths. Bacteria contamination, in fact, is not the only catalyst of product recalls. According to this new data, foreign objects, mislabeling, and improper packaging can also cause recalls.
Mislabeling has become a much greater cause in recent years due to the growing demand for “gluten-free” items, but the top concern is ensuring all allergy information is visible. Since January 2016, 102 notices were posted regarding recalls.
A third of the recalls were due to bacteria contamination, the biggest culprits being salmonella, E coli and listeria. These bacteria are most commonly found in poultry and cheese, but their presence has also led to the recall of vegetables and spices. The presence of foreign objects comes in a close second to bacteria, however.
Recalls prompted by suspicions of tampering have become more frequent in recent years. The USDA, FDA, and European FSA have, in the past, reported findings of human excrement, metal parts, and batteries in several products bound for supermarket shelves. Certainly, consumers should not stop purchasing their beloved Peter Pan peanut butter, but exercising caution is recommended.
TeachingWithData.org is a partnership between the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN), both at the University of Michigan. The project is funded by NSF Award 0840642, George Alter (ICPSR), PI and William Frey (SSDAN), co-PI.
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