The Top 5 Most Fatal Food Recalls

Adobe Stock

  • According to the CDC, 3,000 people die per year due to food poisoning. Below are 5 of the most fatal food recalls.
  • Jensen Farms cantaloupes were responsible for killing 33 people and poisoning 147 others with listeria.
  • Jalisco Mexican Products in Los Angeles was responsible for killing 28 due to listeria in their cheese products. The recall cost them so much money, they had to close their doors permanently.
  • In 1998, Sara Lee Corporations had to recall 35 million pounds of meat after listeria killed 21 people. The recall cost them roughly $100 million.
  • In 2010, Menu Foods pet food was responsible for killing 14 dogs and cats because it contained melamine, a chemical used to make cooking utensils.
  • Pilgrim’s Pride had to recall 27.4 million pounds of chicken and turkey meat. The facility was covered in listeria and the packaging used did not protect the product.

What you put in your body has a huge impact on its performance. The main source of nourishment for all humans is food, so when a food recall gets announced, it can be very concerning.

Every year, food contamination affects millions of Americans. Food poisoning can occur either through natural means or neglect during meal preparation. Unfortunately, several food recalls have come as a result of death.

Jensen Farms Cantaloupes

In 2011, the Colorado-based company, Jensen Farms, became responsible for one of the largest food-induced illnesses to date. The cantaloupes were infected with listeria, a bacterial infection contracted by consuming improperly processed deli meats as well as unpasteurized milk products.

Jensen Farms Cantaloupes were responsible for killing 33 people, along with poisoning another 147 across 28 US states. Shortly after the outbreak was traced back to its produce, the company filed for bankruptcy and was later charged with adulteration of food.

Jalisco Mexican Products Cheese

Another case of listeria affecting people living in 28 states was caused by cheese produced by Jalisco Mexican Products in Los Angeles. In 1985, 28 people were killed as 142 were affected in total. Of the 142 affected, 93 of them were pregnant mothers and their unborn children.

The company had to lay off 100 of its workers because they were unable to meet its payroll budget. They closed their doors for good shortly after.

Sara Lee Corporation Meats

In 1998, the famous deli meat and hot dog company invoked their own recall of 35 million pounds of meat after learning about a listeria outbreak stemming from their products. The food contamination took the lives of 21 people while leaving over 100 others ill.

As with all recalls, the financial hit that the Sara Lee Corporation suffered was upwards to $75 million, with another $25 million invested in repairing the facility where the production took place.

Menu Foods Limited

Menu Foods was the largest producer of wet cat and dog food before it closed its doors in 2010. They had to recall 60 million packages of pet food due to the presence of melamine. Melamine is a chemical that’s used in making cooking utensils and plates.

The FDA prohibits the use of melamine in any human or pet food, especially since it can contribute to kidney failure. The chemical was found in some of the gluten used in its pet food. A total of 14 cats and dogs were killed as a result.

Pilgrim’s Pride Deli Meats

In 2002, Pilgrim’s Pride had to recall 27.4 million pounds of deli chicken and turkey meat. A total of 46 cases of listeria were discovered which resulted in 10 deaths. USDA spokesman at the time Steve Cohen said that “We found pretty extensive listeria throughout the facility.”

Listeria is destroyed once it is cooked, so the only way for it to contaminate food is through the packaging. The company dedicated itself to changing its production method to ensure that the packaging was safe. Pilgrim’s Pride is still in operation today.