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A few recent examples of international food-safety incidents:
August 2008 Canada Dozens of people started showing up in doctor’s offices with vomiting, nausea, and stomach cramps. Maple Leaf Foods, a meat producer based in Toronto, announced it was recalling shipments of turkey, roast beef, and other deli meats due to the presence of the Listeria bacterium, which causes severe food poisoning. Investigators confirmed 57 cases of listeriosis in people who’d eaten Maple Leaf meats; 21 of those people died.
July–November 2008 China In the wake of findings that Chinese manufacturers had added the finely ground plastic compound melamine to baby formula, sending 50,000 Asian babies to the hospital, in the United States the FDA collected 87 samples of infant formula made by American manufacturers for testing. Investigators found melamine in Nestle’s Good Start Supreme Infant Formula With Iron; and cyanuric acid, a related chemical, in Mead Johnson’s Enfamil LIPIL with Iron. Though melamine has been shown to cause kidney failure and death, the FDA balked at prohibiting use of the chemical in food, claiming trace levels did not pose a risk to infants.
March 2008 South Korea Snack manufacturer Nong Shim saw its stock shares plummet last spring after a desiccated rat’s head turned up in a customer’s bag of shrimp crackers. South Korean regulators gave Nong Shim’s domestic production plant a clean bill of health after the incident and speculated the rat might have been introduced in an early part of the production process in China.