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Step away from the spatula

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Kai Ryssdal: And now, sadly, some bad news for all the cake-batter lickers among you, present company included. Put down the spatula. More than 220 million eggs have been recalled after a salmonella outbreak. And even after the e.coli scares of a couple of years ago, there are more foods to worry about out there than you might think.

Marketplace’s Adriene Hill reports.


Adriene Hill: If eggs had faces, there’d be yolk all over them. But they are far from the only food showing cracks in the food safety system.

Dr. Michael Hansen: There are recalls of food at least once a week.

That’s Dr. Michael Hansen, a scientist at Consumer Reports. Here are just a few of the recent food recalls listed on the USDA site: Frozen ground beef products, canned meatball products, chicken nugget products, Firehouse Jerky Beef Jerky products. Dr. Hansen says the food safety system is broken.

Hansen: If we look, the number, for example, of inspections and inspectors have gone down drastically since the early 70s. And the number and amount of food that’s being imported and circulated has only increased.

The Centers for Disease Control has found 76 million cases of foodborne illness every year. The CDC’s Dr. Christopher Braden says the government’s go to do more.

Christopher Braden: Inspecting and testing will get you part of the way there, but there have to be whole systems of food safety that have multiple approaches to making food safe.

A lot of those come from food handling. But many come from the food production process. The foods more likely to get you sick: Poultry, meat and leafy vegetables. Another surprise: Salsa and guacamole. The dip accounts for one in every 25 foodborne illnesses from eating out. Sorry if I spoiled your supper plans.

I’m Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

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