Product recalls – do you really know what you’re eating?

Chef Boyardee SpaghettiOs have been recalled due to underprocessing

One thing I’ve learned over the last few years paying attention to the foods I eat is that processed foods are not only less nutritious than whole foods in their natural state – they carry a pretty good risk for contamination.

Since I’ve been writing (sporadically, I’ll admit) about dog health at, I’ve been following the FDA’s product recall list. And I’ve been absolutely stunned at the amount of food that’s recalled that doesn’t make the national news.

Sure, when tomatoes or peppers or spinach causes an e-coli outbreak, the talking heads are all over it.

But what about when a spice company has a possible contamination? What happens to the companies that use that spice in their products?

Back in March, Basic Food Flavors, Inc. recalled a hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) because of possible Salmonella contamination. As a result, dozens and dozens of companies that used that HVP recalled their products. The same thing happened when Mincing Overseas Spice Company recalled a black pepper product that was possibly contaminated. Companies that used that black pepper in their products issued recalls.

We’re talking everything from McCormick spices to Quacker cheddar snacks, from dips to batters to gluten-free products. Pretty much any processed product that used that black pepper or vegetable protein. The list of companies and products was really, really long.

Did you hear about those recalls? Probably not, and yet there are recalls every day for possible contamination. And that’s not even counting recalls for undeclared allergens, like nuts, sulfites, eggs, or dairy.

Just in the past few days, ice cream, sun dried tomatoes, frozen seafood, bread, and custard pie have all had recalls – for things like allergens, Salmonella, and Listeria.  Tylenol and Benedryl were also recalled because trace amounts of a chemical called 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA) were found in the products.

And today ConAgra recalled Marie Callendar’s Cheesy Chicken and Rice frozen meals due to possible Salmonella contamination, and Chef Boyardee’s SpaghettiOs because of underprocessing.

The reality is that unless we’re making our own food, we really don’t know what’s going into it.

Not that I’m advocating going totally off the grid and churning your own butter and milking your own cow. But there is something to be said for understanding where our food comes from and the number of links in the food chain that gets it from producers to our table.

As an experiment, why not try – for just a  month or a week or even a day – to use as little pre-packaged food as possible? Or even just take a minute to read the ingredient list and find out where the food comes from. Those little canned mandarin oranges, for example, come from China. I’m not so sure that I a) need oranges from China when I live in country that produces it’s own citrus fruit; or b) want to eat anything coming out of China, given their record of dangerous contamination.

I promise you’ll have a better understanding of where your food comes from and hopefully make more informed choices about what you eat.

To keep up with the FDA food and product recalls, you can subscribe to the FDA’s rss feed.

RELATED POST: If we are what we eat, then we’re corn


5 responses to “Product recalls – do you really know what you’re eating?

  1. Pingback: Nick Tahou’s Garbage Plate one of 50 Fattiest Foods in America « Notes From The Funny Farm

  2. The number one reason why I can my own foods. Tomatoes, Peppers, Applesauce, Mixed veggies, BBQ sauce, Spagetti sauce, You name it, I can it, if I can.
    Freeze my own strawberries, and Hot peppers too. Make my own salsa, anything I can from scratch. Processed foods are so bad for you, Salt, presevetives, I’m 100% convinced Cancer comes from not only smoking and electrical wires but from the very processed foods we eat. If you truly want good health and managed wieght, start canning. It’s easy, takes litteraly less than 2 days of your year, 3 if you really get crazy like me, you need less than $100 to get started, and I promise you you will add 5 years to your life, Not just year, quality years.

  3. Pingback: General Mills sued because Fruit Roll Ups are not nutritious; I say “Duh” « Notes From The Funny Farm

  4. Pingback: Am I a Food Renegade? « Notes From The Funny Farm

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