Sad record: Food warnings hit a new record high

Sad record: Food warnings hit a new record high

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2019: the year of recalls

Germs, fungi, bacteria, contaminants, allergy triggers and other health hazards cause regular food recalls as well as annoyance among consumers. The number of government warnings about health-endangering products in circulation will reach a new record in 2019.

A list by the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) shows that almost as many health warnings were issued at the end of November 2019 as in the previous record year of 2018. The sad peak in food warnings is likely to be broken again.

Food warnings are increasing

For example, in 2015 only 100 government warnings were issued throughout the year. In 2017, 161 foods were criticized. 186 cases were reported in 2018. At the end of November 2019, the number of food warnings was already 183 reports. It is therefore more than likely that a new high will be reached at the end of December.

What is called back most often?

Most government warnings in 2019 related to meat products. 51 reports were issued for sausage, meat, game and poultry. According to BVL statistics, milk and milk products are the second most frequent with 27 warnings. There were 17 complaints regarding baked goods and grain products. Fish products have been warned ten times.

Why is it called back?

Microbiological contamination has been the most common reason for a recall in 2019. This includes germs, fungi and bacterial pathogens such as salmonella and listeria. The best-known case that caused a sensation nationwide was the listeria-contaminated sausage products from the North Hessian meat manufacturer Wilke. Three deaths and a further 34 illnesses have been associated with the Wilke products.

Everything about the Wilke scandal: deaths from listeria in sausage and pizza.

Foreign bodies in the food

Similar to microbiological contamination, dangerous foreign bodies sometimes get into the food. At the end of November 2019, according to the BVL, there were 60 cases in which glass, metal or plastic was found in food.

Huge number of controls required

Many consumers are annoyed by the many recalls and wonder why control is not better. The Foodwatch consumer organization also sees an urgent need for improvement here. But the number of companies to be controlled is huge. Around 1.2 million companies in the food industry are registered nationwide. State inspectors, however, “only” check around 500,000 companies a year. Accordingly, more than every second food company gets through unchecked.

Greater transparency in control results is required

"After every new food scandal, we talk about the same old problems - but politics doesn't tackle the crucial weaknesses in food law," Foodwatch spokesman Andreas Winkler told the Funke newspapers. For the customers it is difficult to understand which companies can be trusted and which are more of the "dirty companies". Winkler calls for more transparency in the control results. This is also in the interest of the many companies that work cleanly. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Ärzteblatt: Number of state food warnings before record high (accessed: December 10, 2019),

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