Special Report

29 Food Recalls That Poisoned the Most People

Cheyenne Buckingham, John Harrington

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4. Menu Foods
> No. of cases: 14
> No. of deaths: 14

Menu Foods recalled 60 million cans and packages of pet food in 2007 after 14 cats and dogs died. The gluten in some products had been contaminated with melamine, a chemical that’s used in the manufacturing of items such as cooking utensils, plates, and paperboard, just to name a few. The FDA does not allow melamine to be used in human food or animal feed because it can cause adverse side effects such as kidney failure.

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3. Sara Lee
> No. of cases: 100+
> No. of deaths: 21

Hot dog and deli meat producing giant Sara Lee Corp. voluntarily recalled 35 million pounds of meat in 1998 after learning its products were contaminated with listeria. The outbreak killed 21 people and more than 100 fell ill. Not surprisingly, Sara Lee suffered major losses — the recall alone cost roughly $76 million. Another $25 million went toward renovating the facility where the outbreak originated.

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2. Jalisco Mexican Products Inc.
> No. of cases: 142
> No. of deaths: 28

A devastating 28-state listeria outbreak caused by soft, Mexican-style cheese made by Jalisco Mexican Products killed 28 people, including 10 newborns, in 1985. A total of 142 cases of human listeriosis were confirmed in Los Angeles County, 93 of which were pregnant women and their unborn children.

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1. Jensen Farms
> No. of cases: 147
> No. of deaths: 33

Colorado-based Jensen Farms caused one of the biggest foodborne illness outbreaks to date in 2011. The company’s Rocky Ford cantaloupes were contaminated with listeria, which killed 33 people. An additional 147 people were infected in 28 states. Jensen Farms filed for bankruptcy shortly after the outbreak was linked to its produce, and the owners were charged with several counts of adulteration of a food and aiding and abetting.