When you’re hungry and have prepared your favorite food, the last thing on your mind is whether you may get sick. If it’s something you’ve eaten hundreds of times before, you’re not likely to question if there could be a problem with it. Unfortunately, food recalls because of contamination and other issues are very common. Food manufacturers have a responsibility only to sell products that are safe to eat. Consumers who unknowingly eat contaminated food may develop serious problems that may require them to seek financial compensation.

What are the types of food contamination?

It’s valuable to know the three types of food contamination that can lead to a recall so you can understand what kind of danger could be involved:

  • Biological: This category includes bacteria, mold and other living contaminants.
  • Chemical & Physical: Foreign bodies in food, such as pesticides and debris. Sometimes this detritus is introduced in the production of food or when it is grown.
  • Cross-Contamination: If a manufacturer exposes food to a surface or tool that has contact with other foods, it may expose the product to potential contamination.

What are the risks of eating recalled foods?

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, food recalls occur when there is a risk to human health. That means that no matter what type of contamination has occurred, you should not eat a recalled item.

If there is a biological contaminant in the food, you are at risk of contracting food poisoning, which often can lead to severe gastrointestinal symptoms. People with compromised or weak immune systems are particularly in danger.

Chemical or physical contamination can lead to the ingestion of harmful foreign bodies. The consequences of consuming them can vary depending on what contaminated the food. Things like pesticides, glass and metal can have extremely damaging effects on the body.

When you find a food that has been recalled in your home, you should dispose of it in the way recommended by the manufacturer in their recall notice. You may be able to get a refund for the product. Keep you and anyone else in your household safe by checking recall notices frequently.