If you think there was a reduction in food safety issues in 2016, think again. The year was just as bad if not worse as the previous, with Listeria outbreaks hitting the headlines several times and corporate misdeeds making the food quality news with a vengeance. Here are the five biggest food safety stories according Food Safety News.
- Chipotle: Consumer backlash for the Denver-based fast-food chain followed a series of foodborne illness outbreaks that ultimately were traced to unsafe food handling in some Chipotle restaurants. Financial upheaval also followed as the chain saw 2016 Q3 net income fall to just $7.8 million compared with 144.9 million in 2015.
- Genetically modified organisms (GMO): A compromise bill was signed into law requiring disclosure via a symbol or notice on the label of foods made of genetically modified organisms (GMO). The law defeated initiatives by states to require full disclosure on labels.
- Dole Fresh Vegetables Listeria outbreak: According to investigations, Dole was aware of the fact that its salad production plant was contaminated with the Listeria pathogen as early as mid-2014 but continued production operations until 2016. The misdeed directly resulted in one death and was suspected to be the cause of three other fatalities. In all, 33 victims have been reported so far. The case is continuing.
- General Mills E. coli outbreak: An E. coli outbreak involving flour was traced to General Mills . It was a top food safety news item because 63 people fell ill, 24 states were affected, major food recalls were made and major upheaval was felt across the food industry.
- CRF Frozen Foods Listeria outbreak: There was another major Listeria outbreak, this time involving the CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, WA. This outbreak, a particularly long one from September 2013 into May 2016, necessitated the recall of all the frozen vegetables and fruits shipped out by CRF from May 1, 2014 through June 2016. The outbreak sickened nine individuals, three of whom later died.
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