Retailers May Have Received Recalled Chicken

After months of public calls for Foster Farms chicken to be recalled due to the potential for multiple Salmonella outbreaks, the company announced on July 3, 2014 that it was issuing a voluntary recall for an undetermined number of chicken products produced on three specific dates in March 2014.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture requested that Foster Farms conduct the recall because the product has allegedly been linked to a specific illness of Salmonella over the past several months. The products subject to the recall include the numbers “P7632,” “P6137A,” and “P6137” that can be found inside the USDA mark of inspection. The chicken was produced from March 7 through March 13, 2014.

The products that are being removed from the market include both fresh and frozen chicken sold by private label brands or merchants under Foster Farms, with varying “use or freeze by” dates ranging from March 16 through March 31, 2014 and August 29, 2014 through September 2, 2014. Additionally, frozen Sunland Chicken products with “best by” dates from March 7 through March 11, 2014 and August 29, 2014 through September 2, 2014 are being removed from the market. Consumers will only be able to determine the dates by checking their fresh product retail packaging.

Until now, there has been no evidence that a human illness was caused due to a specific batch of chicken, despite the fact that the latest Foster Farms outbreak has been ongoing since March 2013. In fact, up until this recall, Foster Farms had reportedly refused to remove any of its products from the market, and officials for the U.S. Department of Agriculture did not have any power to enforce a recall, as they could not trace a condition or illness back to a specific lot of chicken.

The recalled products were shipped to Safeway, Kroger, Foodmaxx, Costco, and other distribution centers and retail stores in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, California, and Arizona. While it is unlikely that any of the chicken is still in circulation, people may still have some of it frozen in their freezers. The company is recommending that consumers check their packages of Foster Farms chicken for the recalled establishment number.

The Foster Farms recall comes on the heels of Food Safety news’ announcement that the most recent outbreak of Salmonella has resulted in 212 hospitalizations out of 600 official cases, the newest of which were reported by the California Department of Public Health. California, the state in which Foster Farms is headquartered, has now seen 468 of the cases, the most out of any state.

In July 2013, chicken produced by Foster Farms was reportedly linked to another Salmonella outbreak that caused at least 33 hospitalizations and sickened 134 people in 13 states. Food safety attorneys contend that the company is doing the right thing for the sake of food safety and the health of consumers throughout the U.S. Consumers are urged to consult the USDA’s website for a full list of recalled products.


The Link between Defective Tires and Vehicle Accidents

Each year, Americans drive three trillion miles throughout the country, but few think about their tires on a regular basis. Instead, car owners inflate their tires with air, change them if they are flat, rotate them at scheduled oil changes, and replace them if Lincoln’s head on a penny is viewable. While tires are one of the most important safety features on cars, they are also one of the most overlooked devices.

Tires take on a tremendous amount of wear-and-tear on a daily basis, but people may be more inclined to use their tires for longer than what is intended in order to stave off the cost of replacement or to avoid buying new tires altogether. However, while purposefully doing so can be dangerous, it is important to understand that not all types of deterioration are easy to discern. Unfortunately, whether the tires are weakening due to an inherent flaw in workmanship or design, or simply from excessive wear, the first sign of a defective tire is often a blowout.

According to a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012, tire failure is the cause of more than 75,000 car accidents, 10,000 injuries, and 400 deaths each year in the U.S. After reviewing simulations of tire separations, the NHTSA also found that an experienced driver who knows that he or she is going to experience a tread separation is rarely able to maintain control of his or her vehicle when it happens. As a result of this loss of control, the driver may be more likely to veer off the road, hit another car, pedestrian or bystander, or cause other severe and potentially fatal damages.

Tire defects are likely due to ineffective adhesion, typically because of the age of the glue or the poor bonding of the tire components during the manufacturing process. When a tire is produced, impurities, moisture, and other foreign materials are capable of entering the mix and may be cured into the tire. While tire manufacturers have allegedly known of these issues for years, many have failed to correct them or have neglected to implement better design processes that are less prone to failure. For example, improving skin stock can help the rubber to better bond with the steel, assist in the reinforcement of the tire components, and reduce the likelihood that the tread will separate from the tire and cause a serious or fatal accident.


Misleading Ingredient in Chobani’s Greek Yogurt

Plaintiffs currently filing a class action lawsuit allege that the labeling on Chobani’s Greek yogurt misleads consumers and violates FDA regulations. A similar class action lawsuit was dismissed by a federal court in California in early 2014. The complaint, filed in New York federal court, highlights the various ways that the plaintiffs scrutinize beverage and food labels, claiming that the product is not as natural or as healthy as advertised.

Among other things, plaintiffs allege that the company lists “evaporated cane juice” on the product instead of “sugar,” wrongfully refers to its product as “Greek,” and notes “0%” on its label without context. Although citing evaporated cane juice may not seem important to some, according to the plaintiffs, this is not the usual or common name, and the company should simply state that the product contains sugar. As a result, plaintiffs accuse Chobani of mislabeling the yogurt, a violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Chobani is also allegedly misleading consumers by claiming “0%” on the product’s label but failing to state to what the “0%” refers. Upon further examination, the figure appears to pertain to the percentage of milk fat in the yogurt, but plaintiffs accuse Chobani of attempting to copy the zero-calorie marketing efforts of diet products such as Pepsi Max and Coke Zero by not clearly displaying the ingredient that is reportedly 0%.

Additionally, plaintiffs contend that the Greek yogurt should not be labeled as “Greek.” While Chobani’s website does explain the qualities of a Greek yogurt as well as the manufacturing process needed to produce such a food, plaintiffs argue that the name of the company is derived from the Turkish language, that the yogurt is not made by Greek nationals, and is produced in New York, not Greece. Plaintiffs also point out that the company’s founder and CEO lives in New York, the state in which the Chobani’s first plant was opened.

The filing of these class action lawsuits against Chobani is evidence of the consumers’ willingness to scrutinize food labels and pursue claims against manufacturers for allegedly misleading consumers and violating FDA regulations. Manufacturers of food and beverage products must carefully examine their labels to ensure that they comply with the FDA’s guidelines and that a reasonable consumer will not be misled by the product’s ingredient information. Additionally, all known risks and side effects should be clearly displayed to inform the consumer of any potential complications.

On product labels that make substantial claims, it is also important to ensure that there is evidence to back up these claims if consumers request proof. In addition, all questions that arise pertaining to the ingredients, benefits, risks, or side effects should be answerable. Regardless of whether label misprints or errors are present, a manufacturer must be ready to defend its products should consumers have questions. On the other hand, consumers do have the right to remain thoroughly informed and have the legal option to pursue claims against manufacturers if they believe that they were wrongfully harmed, inadequately warned, or purposefully misled.