After the big salmonella warning at Ferrero, Maggi is now recalling two of its ready meals because of dangerous metal parts. FOCUS Online explains why the number of recalls continues to increase – and what consumers should know.

At Ferrero it was salmonella, at Maggi it is now metal particles: time and again there are food recalls from companies due to potentially dangerous ingredients or contamination. Such warnings have increased significantly in recent years. “On average, two foods are recalled every week in Germany,” says the “” portal. And “Produktrü” even reports about “product recalls that are now rampant and almost daily”.

In most cases, only individual batches of the products are affected. However, the consequences for those affected can be severe. Injuries or illnesses can occur, sometimes even mortal danger. A few weeks ago, more than 150 people in Europe fell ill after eating products from the candy manufacturer Ferrero that were contaminated with salmonella. The manufacturer Mars also recalled some ice cream varieties in March because of possible traces of a carcinogenic substance. Here, however, the concentration was so low that it should not be dangerous for consumers.

But the damage to the company itself is usually not insignificant – the image in particular often suffers. Ferrero fears significant losses in chocolate sales after the recall in spring.

The fact that food recalls have increased so much in recent years is probably mainly due to the companies themselves. “They are more sensitive to the issue. And they tend to inform the public more,” explains Oliver Barthel, Editor-in-Chief of “”. For the companies, the fear of a public shitstorm that could occur in the event of a missed recall plays a role, he told FOCUS Online in the wake of the milk scandal in 2019. At that time, several supermarkets had recalled milk products contaminated with bacteria.

In addition to the public ones, the companies also frequently made silent recalls. Consumers usually don’t notice anything about them. In this case, companies are already recalling their products before they go on sale or can be sold. Still, silent recalls could also be problematic, Barthel said. Especially when customers have already come into contact with the products. The companies then imposed checkout blocks, but did not inform consumers about the background.

“I often get messages from consumers who wanted to buy a product at the supermarket but the clerk kept it when they checked out. The dealers then often do not provide any further information, but only explain that the product is not for sale,” says the recall expert. He sharply criticizes this approach. He thinks it is important to inform consumers sufficiently and transparently. After all, a customer could have bought the product the day before.

Consumers can also report defects in a product if they notice any. According to Barthel, you should inform both the company and the responsible state authorities in such a case. You should then keep the affected product with the proof of purchase as well as the packaging and any foreign objects. Without this, no authority can initiate an investigation.

However, you should only report a product if you can be absolutely certain that the reason for the complaint did not arise when it was opened or processed at home. Barthel explains that there are many cases in which consumers wrongly blamed products on the authorities. Precisely because of the small number and resources of the food inspectors, it is important not to hold them up with unnecessary or incorrect information.

To keep track of recalled products, you can view current product alerts on various websites at any time. If you suspect something might be wrong with a product, you should check to see if there isn’t already a recall.

Although the number of recalls is increasing, the German control system has many weaknesses, criticizes expert Barthel. On the one hand there is the lack of public communication on the part of the authorities. “Authorities are often reluctant to publicize a recall. There is usually a great fear of being sued by the company. In my opinion, however, corporate interests should never come before consumer interests.” At the same time, it often takes too long before a recall is issued. The process is as follows:

Instead of a federal system, Barthel therefore advocates a central point where all information comes together and where inspectors can exchange information. According to the food expert, there are still positive developments: “The fact that there are more recalls, that companies are more sensitive – that’s a good thing. My opinion is: It’s better to have one recall too many than one too few.”