Our nation’s trust in overall food safety this past year has definitely been called into question due to a number of shameful recalls and frightening published studies. It seems the days of completely depending on the federal government to confirm the safety of the foods we eat are gone.
With the mass production of foods, when a recall happens, its repercussions are felt far and wide. Looking back to this year, we’ve seen a number of industries nose dive as a result of epidemic food safety problems. Here are some of the most dangerous foods of 2010:
1. Salmonella-Laced Eggs
Without a doubt the egg industry has seen better days in terms of their public perception. I wrote about thesalmonella outbreak over at TreeHugger. Nearly 550 million eggs were recalled in all. Nearly 2,000 people in 17 states got sick as a result of the outbreak. Experts are saying that the outbreak was caused by rodents or tainted feed. The recalled eggs were all from two farms, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms of Iowa.
The owner of Wright County, Jack DeCoster was said to provide “morally repugnant” working conditions and was a “habitual violator” of environmental laws, according to prosecutors and regulators in the area. What before had been deemed the perfect protein became the subject of what was nothing short of a frightful food safety disaster.
2. Killer Celery
According to a story on Mother Nature Network, the SanGar plant in San Antonio, Texas was closed after health officials linked six of 10 known cases of listeriosis to chopped celery produced at the plant. Five deaths were reported. Sanitation problems were discovered in the factory. One instance points to leaking condensation that dripped onto the food production area.
3. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Type 2 Diabetes
We know that sugar-sweetened beverages, especially soda aid in packing on the pounds. We know that they do little to quench our thirst and lots to cultivate a sugar high. But did you know that this year a study came out that directly linked sugar-sweetened beverages to Type 2 diabetes?
I wrote that study researcher Vasanti Malik from the Department of Nutrition, at the Harvard School of Public Health said that the “[f]indings from our meta-analyses show a clear link between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and risk of metabolic syndrome and type2 diabetes.”
According to the study reported on Food Navigator:
Sugar-sweetened beverages are made up of energy-containing sweeteners such as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, or fruit juice concentrates, all of which, the authors noted, have essentially similar metabolic effects. The consumption of such beverages, which include soft drinks, fruit drinks, iced tea, and energy and vitamin water drinks, has risen globally.
With the spike in sugar-sweetened beverage intake has come a dramatic increase in obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.
4. Cancerous Processed Meats
Rachel wrote about a study last month which directly linked processed meats to cancer. The problem stems from the sodium nitrate found in most bacon, sausage, sandwich meats, hot dogs, and basically any meat that’s at all processed. Sodium nitrate is used to add color to meats, but in fact, it turns into a carcinogen in the human body. However, nitrate-free meats are not a problem.
5. Kid’s Juice Products Contaminated with Lead
According to a story I wrote, lead was consistently found in kid’s drinks (like 85 percent of the time). The levels were high enough to require a warning under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Lead contamination wasn’t just found in larger manufacturers like Welch’s, Tree Top, Minute Maid, and Safeway, it was also found in O Organics, Earth’s Best, and Full Circle Organics amongst 125 others.
6. Salmonella and Pepper
According to the CDC, Rhode Island’s Daniele International recalled more than a million pounds of salami and Italian sausage sold under its label, as well as popular deli brands like Boar’s Head. The meats sickened 272 people in 44 states with salmonella. McCain Foods USA and Dutch Valley Food Distributors also did recalls as a result of the tainted pepper.