Notable Food & Drug Recall Reports of All Time


The press has always been an integral part of the effort to protect society. Across the country’s history, the press has been on the front line of bringing important notices and news to the public. In cases of product defects and recalls, the role of the press is even more important.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a lot of cases of recall from the food and drug industry. Without undermining the risks associated with faulty products in other categories, a case with food and drug products always require swift handling and good reporting. Here are some of the notable food and drug recall reports of all time.

The Tylenol Case

The Tylenol recall in fall 1982 was perhaps the most important recall in the history of our food and drug industry. Back then, it was not standard practice for medications to come in a sealed container. In fact, the containers used back then were very easy to tamper with, which means tampering with the drugs inside them was just as easy.

Seven people died in Chicago after consuming Extra-Strength Tylenol bought at local stores. It was later discovered that the Tylenol capsules were contaminated. Somewhere between the factory and the stores, someone tampered with the drugs and added potassium cyanide to the surface of the capsules.

The crime was never solved. It was not possible to pinpoint the perpetrator due to the lack of proper sealing and protection. Fortunately, Johnson & Johnson quickly recalled the entire stock of Tylenol from stores across the country. The recall cost the company millions, but it also increased public trust in the brand.

After the Tylenol case, FDA made it mandatory for all over-the-counter medications to use the new tamper-proof seals. This is an extra layer of protection that will help prevent a similar case from occurring again.

The California Slaughterhouse

The next case on our list happened in California. The Department of Agriculture had to issue a recall order after they discovered that a slaughterhouse in California had shockingly slaughtered and process downer cattle. Downer cattle are those too sick or feeble to walk to slaughter. This is against the regulations put in place by the Department of Agriculture to prevent the spread of diseases and bad meat.

The recall covered 143 million pounds of beef, making it the largest meat recall in US history. Unfortunately, the recall was issued after most of the meat had been consumed. It was also an alarming fact that the majority of the bad meat went to the National School Lunch Program; the government reacted quickly and removed a large quantity of bad meat from the program.

Despite being the largest recorded case of meat recall we have had so far, there were no injuries or reports of illnesses that could be directly linked to the recalled meat. The press worked tremendously hard in warning everyone about the recall at the time.

Costco’s Listeria Contamination

This last case happened not too long ago, in 2016. Costco was forced to recall frozen vegetables manufactured by CRF Frozen Foods LLC. There were a total of 15 different products that had to be recalled due to a possible contamination of Listeria.

Listeria is a disease that causes a wide range of symptoms and can be very harmful. Symptoms of Listeria may include fever, muscle aches, loss of balance and severe headaches. The disease is particularly dangerous to pregnant women due to the fact that it can cause premature delivery and stillbirth.

The recall was first triggered by an inspection by the state health officials in Ohio. From that inspection, traces of Listeria contamination were found in several products. CRF then took active steps to ensure the contamination didn’t cause more harm to consumers. An official spokesperson quickly issued a statement to the press, notifying customers not to consume all 15 products and that a recall was underway.

The Costco recall was highly reported mainly because the products involved in the recall were all fast-moving, highly-consumed products. Frozen vegetables are also used in a lot of other products found on the market, including restaurant dishes.

As you can see, the press played an important role in minimizing injuries in the event of a recall and notifying consumers as quickly as possible. These cases have proven how effective the press can be under the circumstance. They are also reminders that we will continue to assume such an important role in the future.



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