The Trader Joe’s recall situation has garnered significant attention in the past few weeks, as the popular retail chain declared three different product recalls during the last week of July. In this episode of the Xtalks Food Podcast, Sydney talks about the details of the recall, which has raised some eyebrows with food safety. Trader Joe’s, in a statement to Vox, called the series of recalls “a coincidence.” Yet, Melvin Kramer, President of the EHA environmental and public health consulting group, suggests another theory. The unique appeal of Trader Joe’s to consumers lies in its blend of global and local foods produced by small-scale makers. This variety may increase Trader Joe’s recall risk compared to stores sourcing from large-scale manufacturers. Trader Joe’s has gained a cult-like following for selling a variety of local specialty foods and crafting engaging narratives about its brands; however, the recent increase in Trader Joe’s recall from once or twice a month to three times in a week is alarming. The team talks about the lack of oversight from federal authorities like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and wonder whether consumers are partially to blame for high demand.
Also in this episode, Sydney reviews Netflix’s new food safety documentary, “Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food.” The objective of the documentary is not to dictate what foods the audience should avoid due to health concerns or to debunk myths about so-called healthy foods. Rather, its primary focus is to shed light on the negligent food safety practices employed by various companies and federal authorities. The film unpacks a variety of food safety issues, starting with the notorious E. coli outbreak between 1992 and 1993 that claimed the lives of four children who had eaten contaminated burgers from the fast-food chain Jack in the Box. The film also profiled Kenneth Kendrick, a former plant manager at Peanut Corporation of America who blew the whistle on his boss, corporation owner Stewart Parnell, for tampering with inspection records to ship out contaminated nuts. The narrative unfolds through several viewpoints, including those of food industry attorneys, politicians, regulators, scientists, victims’ parents and implicated businesses. The team praises the documentary for shedding light on several important but overlooked food safety issues in the US.
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