Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The number of food recalls has increased 10 percent over the past five years, and some happened because of "archaic" laws, a nonprofit watchdog said in a new report released Thursday.
The report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG, said recalls from crackers, to lettuce and meat increased from 2013 to 2018. U.S. Department of Agriculture Class 1 recalls of meat and poultry increased by a dramatic 83 percent.
The Class 1 recalls "involve a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death," the PIRG reported. Those recalls include beef suspected of contamination from E. coli and poultry from salmonella.
"The food we nourish our bodies with shouldn't pose a serious health risk," Adam Garber, the consumer watchdog for PIRG, said in a statement. "But systemic failures mean we're often rolling the dice when we go grocery shopping or eat out. We can prevent serious health risks by using common sense protections from farm to fork."
Two E. coli contaminations in romaine lettuce left five dead and more than 100 hospitalized in 2018 while a salmonella outbreak in raw beef killed 246 as workers discarded 12 million pounds of beef, USA Today reported.
This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the latest leafy vegetable recall because of E. coli appeared "to be over" after stating that contaminated lettuce from California that made people sick was no longer in stores and restaurants.
The scare reached into Canada as well, as 29 cases of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce from the same area were confirmed.
In the meat industry, PIRG blamed "archaic laws" that allow producers to sell meats that test positive for salmonella, saying that some recalls could have been prevented.
"These recalls are a warning to everyone that something is rotten in our fields and slaughterhouses," Viveth Karthikeyan, a PIRG consumer watchdog associate, said in a statement. "Government agencies need to make sure that the food that reaches people's mouths won't make them sick."