WASHINGTON — With the summer cookout season now in full swing, consumer groups are issuing a warning about food safety.
Recalls impacted nearly 300 food and beverages last year alone. This includes things like peanut butter, chicken, and even cookies!
Experts say these numbers are lower than in pre-pandemic years but still very concerning.
“Fewer recalls doesn’t necessarily mean that food is safer. It just means that the regulators aren’t finding out about it and the products aren’t being formally recalled,” said Teresa Murray, consumer watchdog at U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
The FDA and USDA are the two main food regulators. In this latest report from consumer watchdog group U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), it shows 4.5% of recalls last year happened because of inspection issues. This includes items being produced in a facility that wasn’t inspected by USDA.
“One of the biggest things that people can do is to realize that all food contains germs - keep it refrigerated, keep it cooked, keep it heated,” said Murray.
Recalls are also reported from people going to urgent care for food-related illnesses like salmonella. This report shows salmonella cases stemming from recalls nearly doubled last year compared to 2019. Salmonella causes more than one million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths a year.
Researchers say you’re more likely to get sick from salmonella during the summer because bacteria can thrive in warm temperatures. That’s why experts say shouldn’t leave perishable foods unrefrigerated for more than two hours.
Salmonella can also spread very quickly!
“Because if you touch something that has like salmonella, for example, and then you go, you’re prepping food or you’re eating food, but you touch one thing, and then you touch something else, you can cross-contaminate really, really easily,” said Murray.
Experts are also reminding you to make sure all your food is cooked properly because that’s how you kill bacteria.
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