Federal officials have said they’ll issue new safety guidelines for food companies after a significant increase in recalls of meat and poultry products possibly containing metal, plastic and other foreign materials. According to a Reuters news report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will advise food manufacturers to begin internal investigations when they receive consumer complaints and to notify the government within 24 hours if tainted products make it to the marketplace. These will still be voluntary guidelines, and officials say they are designed to ensure that companies meet pre-existing regulatory requirements.
Important Safety Issues
According to the USDA, since early 2018, Tyson Food, Smithfield Foods, and other companies have launched more than 25 recalls involving millions of pounds of meats and other food products that contained dangerous materials such as metal and plastic pieces. Consumer advocates have attributed this type of food contamination to increased automation in meat processing plants where machine parts could break off and contaminate food.
The meat industry says producers are reluctant to recall food until they look into whether the consumer complaints about foreign objects are legitimate. Officials have also said that recalls might have increased because the USDA has recently placed more focus on food companies and government inspectors better understanding the requirements for recalling products. The new guidelines will essentially advise food manufacturers regarding how to investigate and process complaints and apply information from them to subsequent reports of contaminated products.
In January and February, there were three recalls involving Tyson Foods, Perdue Foods and Pilgrim’s Price Corp chicken products that may have contained rubber or wood, which put the spotlight on these types of food-safety risks. Perdue for example, launched an investigation. A company spokesman said they now keep wood away from unpackaged products on their manufacturing floor. In February, Bellisio Foods recalled Boston Market meals containing barbecued pork, which may have contained hard plastic or glass. Last week, Agri Beef recalled about 30, 260 pounds of ground beef for pieces of plastic.
These types of contaminated food can cause not just serious oral injuries, but also internal organ damage if ingested. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of these contaminated food products, an experienced product defect lawyer can help you seek and obtain compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, pain and suffering and emotional distress.