Analyzing 2019 major food recalls as listed on the websites of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, undeclared allergens like nuts, soy or dairy were the most common reason why food products were recalled in the U.S.
The second most common cause on the list is also worrisome. Almost 60 major recalls happened because listeria was present or suspected in foods. The germs can cause serious infections that lead to the death of around 260 people in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. Similarly serious bacteria E.coli and salmonella also caused approximately 50 major recalls. All three types of germs are commonly found in meat – an especially risky category for recalls that has been getting more common over the years.
Other reasons why food recalls happened was the contamination with foreign materials like plastic pieces during processing and the failure to meet inspection requirements. In 2019, recalls were also carried out because of contamination with botulism (6 recalls), lead and/or arsenic (5 recalls), Hepatitis A (4 recalls) and the Norovirus (3 recalls).