Is anything truly “safe” anymore? Surely you can trust your food. You chose it yourself, maybe even read the ingredients, choosing the healthiest option. You know and trust the brand, as you’ve used it for years. But what you aren’t aware of is that the company responsible for producing the food we consume, are only the friendly consumer-facing side of the product distribution. The manufacturing and internal distribution before the product is marketed is far, less regulated.
What is in your kitchen? Frozen Cauliflower contaminated1 with Listeria monocytogenes. Broccoli ‘Tots’ containing small rocks and metal fragments.2 Creamy Tomato Basil Soup filled with glass particles3 Cupcakes laced with tiny fragments of metal mesh wire4. Clam Chowder with small plastic pieces5 Salad Dressing contaminated with Clostridium botulinum6 Jumbo stuffed shells, stuffed with “foreign material7.” Hotdog Buns and Hamburger Buns contaminated with Salmonella.8
Who should be held accountable for these oversights? Should it be the FDA for not allocating enough resources to produce efficient inspections? Or, should the corporations themselves be accountable for the total lack of control shown in their quality control? Could these contaminates have been due to a conscious decision in the manufacturing to use cheaper ingredients, or a cut in costs somewhere along the way, leading to hazardous results which effect the health of the consumer?
These are just a few of the documented horrors, recalled publicly by American corporations and during 2021. This does not include the contamination that went unnoticed. The misinterpreted side effects of consuming poisonous bacteria, or the long term effects of consuming small sharp particles. The FDA may not be to blame for these faults, but what is the point of regulations, and consumer trust, if manufacturing standards are overlooked, or infrequently checked.
The FDA states:
“When a company announces a recall, market withdrawal, or safety alert, the FDA posts the company's announcement as a public service. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company.”
America has become a country where not only can you not trust your government, your mainstream media outlets, but now even the institutions funded by the taxpayers created to facilitate health in America should be in question.
During 2021, many companies were able to profit off of the manufacturing of foods well below FDA regulation, and pass it onto the American public. Evading responsibility, the distribution companies and the FDA, left their health inspections up to the consumer. Often times the damage from contaminated products goes unassociated with the consumption of the product, confusing the symptoms with other factors. Additionally, toxic substances and any chemicals that have contaminated the product during manufacturing or distribution, can cause biological changes in the body overtime resulting in severe damage to the individual.
Frozen Cauliflower contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes
“Flagship Food Group of Eagle, Idaho is voluntarily recalling a limited number of cases of frozen cauliflower, TJ Farms Select brand, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.”
Broccoli ‘Tots’ containing small rocks and metal fragments
“Conagra Brands, Inc. (NYSE: CAG), is voluntarily recalling Birds Eye Broccoli Tots in 12 ounce packages with specific best buy dates due to the potential presence of small rocks and metal fragments in the product. Conagra Brands was made aware of this issue through calls from consumers.”
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup filled with glass particles
“Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods is recalling 31.4-ounce jars of H-E-B Creamy Tomato Basil Soup due to the possible presence of glass in the product.”
Cupcakes laced with tiny fragments of metal mesh wire
“Flowers Foods, Inc. (NYSE: FLO) is voluntarily recalling Tastykake multi-pack cupcakes due to the potential presence of tiny fragments of metal mesh wire.”
Clam Chowder with small plastic pieces
“Ivar’s Soup and Sauce Company, Mukilteo, Washington is recalling 14,968 sleeves of refrigerated Kettle Classic Clam Chowder with Uncured Bacon, Costco Item #1270666, packaged in 2-24oz Sleeved Packs, because of the possibility that the product may contain hard, sharp opaque plastic pieces.”
Salad Dressing contaminated with Clostridium botulinum
“Drew’s Organics, LLC of Chester, VT is voluntarily recalling one lot code of Aldi Simply Nature Organic Poppy Seed Dressing due to a processing issue that could allow for microbial growth.”
Jumbo stuffed shells, stuffed with “foreign material”
“SEVIROLI FOODS, INC, of Bellmawr, NJ is recalling H-E-B Jumbo Stuffed Shells - 22 oz due to potential presence of foreign material in product (Metal). Consumption of hard or sharp foreign material could cause physical injury.”
Hotdog Buns and Hamburger Buns contaminated with Salmonella.
“Hostess Brands, LLC (“Hostess Brands”) is voluntarily recalling certain Hostess® Soft White Hamburger Buns and Soft White Hot Dog Buns due to the potential for the products to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella.”
“Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.”
With processed food, you never know what you’re eating. While there are toxins that can enter natural foods as well, the manufacturing process is evidently not as glamorous as we often like to think it may be. Just because a bottle or can has a fancy label, is sold inside of a reputable store, bought by millions of people, and even a reputable brand, shouldn’t indicate our trust for the contents of the product. While quality ingredients matter, they certainly aren’t the only thing that is important. The manufacturing process, even the quality of the water used, plays an immense role in the resulting product. Just because an ingredient is made cheaply internationally shouldn’t indicate that it is consumer grade. If we let our standards for the food and drug in America slip, millions of people, if not the entire population is put at risk.
In 2022, the FDA has requested $6.5 billion in funding9 representing an increase in eight percent. Should that amount of tax dollars be enough to provide inspections stating,
“To support our critical inspection work in the upcoming fiscal year, our Budget requests an increase of $18.8 million to ORA’s base funding to support for our inspections program.”
Their inspections program has clearly allowed many contaminants to go unregulated in foods, as well as modern medicines. As America falls more reliant on international manufacturing for many ingredients used in American medicines and products, the quality of our nation’s products falls into question. Historically, people would purchase goods, without any regulations whatsoever, and often consumers became sick, and died due to contaminants. While capitalism is rightly about economic growth, it also includes the well-being of the consumer after using the product as intended, anything less is fraudulent deception. As the international dependance of ingredients used in American food and medicine expands, should the FDA be forced to provide thorough inspections of the manufacturing plant and process? As domestic companies distribute their products into the U.S. consumer market, should these products be tested for toxins and contaminants before being sold to the general public?
The FDA will routinely gain their funding whether or not they fulfill their goals and annual expectations. Not matter the fate of the consumer, the Food & Drug Administration can easily point the blame towards the very companies who produce the faulty products, ensuring their paycheck remains consistent. It is the responsibility of the FDA to allocate more of their resources to general inspections, and enforce the standards set in place for consumer products. As more horror stories of recalls unveil, the population moves on, and the company remains largely unaffected. Instead, this should be warning sign to the American taxpayer. Just because something is neatly wrapped up in a package, doesn’t mean it’s always safe to consume.