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October 30, 2018

10 Emerging Risks Resulting from Modern Food Trends


With reliable refrigeration and a solid understanding of the bacteria that makes us sick, it seems like we should be able to eradicate foodborne illnesses altogether. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The CDC estimates that foodborne diseases sicken 48 million people in the U.S. every year.

While many factors contribute to foodborne illnesses, change is the biggest culprit. As new modern food trends emerge, new risks develop, requiring those in the food business to stay continuously vigilant. Below are 10 examples.

  1. Organic – Many people are willing to pay extra for food that’s labeled organic. It’s supposed to be healthier, but some worry that it could increase the risk of bacterial contamination. According to the Food Safety News, a study conducted by the CDC found no conclusive evidence of a higher risk but suggested safe food handling practices.
  2. Raw food – Cooking food can reduce the risk of a bacterial infection, but proponents of the raw food trend argue that uncooked food is healthier. According to the CDC, a salmonella outbreak was linked to a line of raw and organic food products in 2016.
  3. Raw pet food – Not all food trends are about humans. The FDA warns that the raw pet food trend can put both animals and their human owners at risk. Many animals can spread salmonella infections to the humans around them.
  4. Pre-cut fruits and vegetables – People love convenience, but sometimes there’s a price to pay. According to an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), pre-cut produce has a higher microbial risk than whole produce. Today reports that 70 people got sick after eating pre-cut melons contaminated with salmonella this summer.
  5. Raw water – Clean water is essential to good health, and poor access to clean drinking water is a serious problem in some parts of the world. Most people know this, so it’s surprising that some people would choose to drink unclean water when they don’t have to. According to NBC News, this is exactly what people who buy raw water are doing. A fancy glass jug of the unfiltered, unsterilized and untreated water costs more than $60. 
  6. Rise in food allergies – According to an article published by NCBI, food allergies appear to be increasingly common in western countries. People with food allergies have to be very careful about what they eat, and undisclosed ingredients and cross-contamination pose serious threats at restaurants. A 15-year-old girl with a sesame seed allergy recently died after eating a sandwich from Pret A Manger. According to Business Insider, the restaurant had previously been warned that its baguettes, which were not labeled to show they contained sesame seeds, could contribute to an allergic reaction.
  7. Food delivery – Services like Uber Eats and GrubHub let people have food from a variety of restaurants delivered right to their door. Insurance Journal warns that delivery introduces new risks, including car collisions and a decline in quality if food is left sitting in the delivery car for a long time.
  8. Meal kits – Numerous meal kit services have emerged to let people cook sophisticated meals at home with much less hassle, but safety could be an issue. According to Food Safety News, a Rutgers University professor studied these kits and found almost half of the kit arrived at temperatures that made the food unsafe to eat.
  9. Foraging – For people interested in natural and healthy eating, it’s hard to top foraging for your food yourself. But be warned – if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up poisoning yourself. According to BuzzFeed News, a foraging-based cookbook written by an Instagram influencer was recently recalled by the publisher after people pointed out that some of the recipes could be dangerous.    
  10. Liquid nitrogen – Liquid nitrogen is sometimes used to produce an alluring fog-like effect in desserts and drinks. The FDA warns that although liquid nitrogen is non-toxic, it has been known to lead to severe, sometimes life-threatening, injuries.

Need help managing risk in your food industry business? Heffernan’s Refined Food Industry Insurance division can help. Learn more.

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