11 Types of Groceries That Get Recalled Most Often — and Why

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A woman with bags full of groceries.
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Every week, we let you know which products were recalled. While the list changes weekly, certain types of products are recalled more frequently than others, with certain types of foods being among them.

When it comes to food, there’s one underlying cause that makes up nearly 50% of U.S. recalls.

The U.S. PIRG Education Fund, an independent advocacy group, recently analyzed 2023 recall data to decipher which foods are most likely to be recalled and the reasons why.

The following are the most frequently recalled items and the typical causes:

  • Snacks: Undeclared allergens
  • Cantaloupe: Salmonella
  • Fruit besides cantaloupe: Listeria or Hepatitis A
  • Beef: E. coli or foreign matter
  • Soup: Undeclared allergens
  • Salad/greens/kits: Listeria or undeclared allergens
  • Poultry: Undeclared allergens or undercooked ready-to-eat items
  • Cheese: Listeria
  • Vegetables: Listeria
  • Supplements: Undeclared allergens
  • Pet food: Salmonella

About one-fifth of recalled snacks were cookies, granola bars, candy and popcorn.

One-fifth of all products recalled due to undeclared allergens had more than just one ingredient that should have been declared but was missing from their label.

The three most common individual ingredients, though, are undeclared milk (19.5%), peanuts (11.7%) and other nuts (16.2%). Other allergens that companies are required to disclose are crustacean shellfish, eggs, fish, sesame, soy and wheat.

The problem with allergens didn’t improve last year. Almost half (154) of all items recalled in 2023 were pulled from shelves because of undisclosed allergens. That’s an increase from 2022, which was 121 products.

Listeria made up 15% of last year’s recalls, three more products than in 2022 and nine fewer than in 2019.

Salmonella was the cause of 8.6% of 2023 recalls.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says norovirus is the top cause of contaminated food outbreaks in the U.S., making up about 50% of food-related outbreaks. The foods most at risk include fruits and vegetables sprayed with contaminated water, food handled by sick workers, oysters from contaminated waters and undercooked shellfish.

Lower on this list, but still prominent, is E. coli. This bacteria was behind eight of 2023’s 313 recalls.

The CDC estimates that nearly 1 in 6 Americans become ill every year because of contaminated food and drinks. Among those approximately 50 million people, 128,000 end up in the hospital and 3,000 die.

The U.S. PIRG Education Fund says the best way to minimize your risk is by safely handling your food and staying on top of recent recalls. This is especially important if you or someone in your household has a food allergy.

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