5 Largest Food Processing Recalls in U.S. History

food processing

A food processing product recall can irreversibly damage your company’s reputation. Recalls also have a ripple effect throughout the industry and economy. Food Processing companies can avoid contamination by obtaining a plant safety inspection. When food safety is not monitored, terrible things can happen.

Here are five of the largest food processing recalls in United States history, which serve as a sobering cautionary tale for all food processing manufacturers.

  1. Peanut Corporation of America

    In late 2008 and early 2009, more than 500 illnesses and eight deaths resulted from salmonella contamination in the Peanut Corporation of America’s Blakely, GA, factory. In total, the company recalled over 3,200 products. Peanut Corporation of America ultimately filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, and its owner, Stewart Parnell, was convicted of federal felony charges because of his involvement. He faces life in jail.


  2. Nestlé Toll House

    300,000 cases of refrigerated cookie-dough products were recalled in June 2009 because of an E. coli risk that came to light after 65 E. coli-related illnesses were reported in 29 states.


  3. Kraft Food

    In a preventive move in early 2008, Kraft Foods recalled more than 2.8 million pounds of chicken products after listeria was detected in a single package. No deaths or illnesses were reported.


  4. Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company

    It all started with an exposé from The Humane Society that showed unhealthy cattle being led to slaughter without inspection. Federal regulations prohibit this to stop the spread of diseases like Mad Cow. No illnesses or deaths were reported, but the company voluntarily recalled 143 million pounds of beef in February 2008.


  5. Cargill Ground Turkey

    A drug-resistant strain of salmonella that sickened 76 people and killed one person in 26 states was traced back to the ground turkey coming out of a Springdale, AR, Cargill plant. The company recalled 36 million pounds of the meat in August of 2011.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This sentiment couldn’t be truer for food processors. The first step toward preventing a recall at your plant is to employ Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans. It’s also a good idea to invest in a plant food safety audit that will determine your plant’s risks and recommend solutions to mitigate those risks.  

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