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A brief history of massive food recalls

Kellogg’s is the latest company to announce a major product recall, asking for a voluntary recall of select boxes of Corn Pops, Honey Smacks, Froot Loops and Apple Jacks cereals. The recall was the result of an odd taste and smell coming from the packages. The company said the cereal isn’t likely to cause illness. Except for maybe diarrhea and nausea. YAY!

For the next several weeks, expect to see the cereal shelves noticeably empty, with notes explaining the recall and your local store’s commitment to its customers and the safety of the products. The next time you see these cereals, expect the boxes to say something like “Smells great – GUARANTEED!”  Also imagine tons and tons of apologies. You can also expect samples of the cereals to go to testing labs to compare the inferior product to the regular ol’ one.

This is just the latest in a long history of food recalls that have caused panic and pandemonium among consumers and particularly parents.


Totino’s Pizza (November 2007)



General Mills issued a voluntary recall of some 5 million boxes under the Totino’s and Jeno’s pizza names after an E. Coli scare.  For months the pizzas disappeared from the freezer aisle, and General Mills definitely felt the burn of the loss.

The pizzas made a return to the shelves a few short months later with a new package design and a nice “Quality Assured” seal on them.

No issues have sprung up since, and the two pizzas remain a favorite among cheap eaters, single moms and college students.

Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter (February 2007)

Salmonella was found in jars of Wal-Mart’s Store Brand, Great Value Peanut Butter and Peter Pan in early 2007. ConAgra Foods Corp. made both products. Consumers were asked to throw away or return jars that had a specific number on them to indicate the location and date they were jarred.

The jars led to sickness in hundreds of consumers and also led choosy moms to have a bit less choice in the Peanut Butter aisle for the coming months. Like Totino’s, Peter Pan began marketing itself as a good, healthy choice for peanut butter – and remains a good seller on the shelves today. (We were always a Jif family.)

Incidentally, I looked at my peanut butter upon the recall and noticed the number on it was a recall number, but I never got sick so I just threw away the jar and went on with the rest of my life.

Melamine Pet Food (2007)

A coworker had two pets die during the recall of several pet foods that were causing death in dogs and cats because they were contaminated with Melamine. This included two popular brands Purina and Iams. After a thorough investigation, on Feb. 6, 2008, two Chinese nationals and their businesses, along with a U.S. company, its President and CEO were indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a scheme to import melamine-contaminated products into the U.S.

Red Dye No. 2 (1976)

Not a recall, but actually a ban of this oldie-but-baddie – Red Dye No. 2, which was used on hotdog casings, ice cream and the infamous Red M&Ms was put to rest in 1976 after a 15-year battle over its safety.

Children would not see red M&Ms again until 1987, when they returned with a vengeance and were deemed safe for human consumption. Red 40 replaced Red 2 to help brighten Jell-O, grape soda and all kinds of other artificially-colored goodies.

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