As 2012 comes to a close, the Food Manufacturing editors have put our heads together to recap the top food news stories of the year. Stay tuned all week as we bring you the year in review.
A year of food industry news would not be complete without coverage of the food recalls affecting both industry and public health. Using a careful metric analyzing scope, scale and newsworthiness, Food Manufacturing ranks the top five recalls of the year:
5. Buona Vita recalls meatballs
In July, Buona Vita recalled over 324,000 pounds of meat products due to a possible bacterial contamination. The recall included meatloaves, burgers and meatballs. Luckily, no illnesses were reported in connection with the recall, as the company acted quickly and worked with USDA to remove the tainted products from shelves. But no matter how you slice it, 324,000 pounds makes a lot of meatballs.
4. Frozen Strawberries sicken many in Germany
A norovirus outbreak that sickened 11,000 people — mostly schoolchildren — in Germany has been linked to frozen strawberries imported to the country from China. Though none of the associated illnesses were serious, the international finger-pointing caused a bit of a stir, with Chinese diplomats and other officials refuting claims about the source of the public outbreak.
3. Chamberlain Farm Produce recalls cantaloupes
In the wake of 2011’s Jensen Farms massive cantaloupe recall that killed 36 people and sickened many more, U.S. consumer confidence was again shaken by a new salmonella contamination in cantaloupes that originated at Indiana’s Chamberlain Farm Produce. Many dozens were sickened, and at least two people were killed in the outbreak.
2. Sunland peanut butter has broad-reaching impact
A New Mexico peanut butter plant was shut down after a salmonella outbreak was traced back to the facility. The company is a major supplier of peanut and peanut butter products to other food processors, and its recall impacted brands like Smucker’s, Trader Joe’s and others. The FDA now claims the company knowingly distributed the tainted product, and that its own internal tests showed the company’s products were unfit for human consumption.
1. XL Foods beef recall shakes consumer confidence
In what is surely the year’s biggest food safety scandal, Canada’s XL Foods was embroiled in an E. coli outbreak that would go on for weeks, costing workers their jobs, shaking up the Canadian government, prompting a USDA audit of the Canadian Food Inspection System, triggering a massive lawsuit and ultimately leading to the takeover of the company by JBS USA. Only 16 people fell ill, and no deaths were connected to the outbreak.
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