Negosentro | Scares and Scandals: 5 Strange Food Scandals That Received Global Attention | In many ways, our health and safety are in the hands of the brands we choose to support. We can’t all grow our own food or understand the science behind the ingredients in our favorite products. So, we trust people we’ve never even met to get their formulations right and protect us from bacteria, contaminants, and toxic ingredients.
While they generally deliver on their promises, there have been a few food safety incidents so catastrophic that they shook the world. From baby formula to breakfast cereal, here are five foods that got embroiled in scandals.
1. British beef
Anyone who remembers the mad cow disease scare of the late 80s is probably still wary of eating beef, especially if it comes from Britain. The disease spread through British cows after a bone meal from other cows was added to their feed. Putting aside how disturbing it is that people were feeding cows to cows, this bone meal just so happened to be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy – aka mad cow disease.
Unfortunately, this neurodegenerative disease can spread to humans via infected beef, and even more, unfortunately, the condition is fatal. The UK reported 166 deaths from mad cow disease, and many people around the world swore off red meat for good.
2. Milk and baby formula
In 2008, hundreds of thousands of Chinese children were poisoned by melamine. This plastic had been used by a handful of baby formula producers to pad out their products, including milk and formula. While melamine is fine when used to make cups, plates, and plastic utensils, it’s toxic if consumed in powdered form. Six children died from the incident, and those responsible faced lengthy prison sentences and, in some cases, the death penalty.
3. McDonald’s fries
No one expects McDonald’s to be a paragon of healthy eating. However, when a company says its fries are cooked in pure vegetable oil, you can forgive vegetarians for thinking that they can treat themselves from time to time. Unfortunately, news eventually broke that McDonald’s adds beef flavoring to its fry oil. While this was upsetting to vegetarians and vegans all over the world, it was particularly horrifying for Hindu people who hold cows sacred and would never have consumed the fries if they’d known.
4. Bottled water
In 2004, fans of bottled water were scandalized by the revelation that many brands – including Coca-Cola’s Dasani – were selling tap water in their bottles. To their credit, they did at least filter the tap water. However, in most cases, the filters used were no better than the cheap ones you could get for your home.
Despite this revelation – and the far more troubling fact that bottled water contributes greatly to the proliferation of plastics in our oceans – global sales continue to rise. Indeed, the pandemic years saw a massive boost in bottled water sales.
5. More bottled water issues
If you thought it was bad to bottle tap water, Nestlé is here to show you that there are worse things you can do. In 2016, it was revealed that the company was making money by bottling water it took for free from natural springs. This isn’t even the worst part. Nestlé and companies like it were extracting water from areas that sorely needed to preserve their water tables.
While these scandals certainly are alarming, don’t let them scare you away from your local supermarket. Unless, of course, you were looking for some inspiration to go off-grid and start growing your own food!