Report: Consumer Protection

Total Food Recall

Unsafe Foods Putting American Lives at Risk
Released by: NJPIRG Law & Policy Center

No Progress in Reducing Foodborne Illness

Over the past few years, New Jerseyans have grown accustomed to seeing headlines about tainted food being recalled and pulled off of store shelves.  These high-profile recalls leave many wondering whether enough is being done to reduce the risk of contaminated food and foodborne illness.  And they are right to do so – 48 million Americans get sick from eating tainted food each year, and despite significant costs to our economy and Americans’ public health, the number of such illnesses, particularly from Salmonella, has remained stagnant over at least the past 5 years.

More needs to be done to protect New Jerseyans from the risk of unsafe food.  But important rules, standards, and inspections that could significantly improve food safety have been blocked, underfunded, or delayed, allowing the drumbeat of recalls to continue.

This report is a snapshot look, from January 2011 to September 2012, at recalls that were directly linked to identified incidents of foodborne illness.  Failures in the rules and processes that protect our food supply have led to numerous high-volume recalls over the past two years that left many New Jerseyans sickened, and at least 37 Americans dead.  And the economic costs of the illnesses caused by food products recalled over the past 21 months come to over $5.1 million in our state.

According to recall information compiled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), from January 2011 to September 2012 there were:

  • 1,753 foodborne Illnesses linked to recalls of food products nation-wide, 121 in New Jersey; 
  • 464 hospitalizations nation-wide due to recalled food products;
  • 37 deaths linked to recalls of food products;
  • 1,446 incidences of  Salmonella linked to recalls of food products across the country, 114 in New Jersey; and
  • 165 incidences of Listeria linked to recalls of food products nation-wide, 3 in New Jersey.

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