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Why Honey Smacks Cereal is Keeping Parents Awake at Night

Posted in Outbreaks & Recalls,Salmonella on June 21, 2018

As a parent, the worst thing we want to hear is that there has been another recall on a popular food that we serve our children. In the news this week, we learned of the recall of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks due to the threat of Salmonella. While no other Kellogg’s products have been recalled at this time, this is still a serious issue.

According to the CDC, illness can set in after consuming foods that have been possibly contaminated with Salmonella. Many people are unsure what Salmonella is and the symptoms and upon doing some research the parental alerts and fear really set in quick for so many parents like myself.

Salmonella poisoning can disguise itself as a traditional type of food poisoning, but can actually present as so much more, including Typhoid fever. Many people recover on their own without any medical attention, but if severe diarrhea persists dehydration is a huge concern, and therefore, medical intervention needs to be sought. In fact, early medical intervention and treatment can potentially reduce the risk of severe illness and long-term complications.

What products have been affected in the Honey Smacks recall?

Items with the UPC codes: 3800039103 & 3800014810 in boxes sized 15.3 ounces and 23 ounces.

This cereal was distributed world-wide which makes this recall so vast.

What if I have the product?

Many parents are questioning what they should do if they have a box of Honey Smacks in their cabinet. The CDC recommends that you stop eating them immediately and either throw the cereal away or return it to the store where purchased and ask for a refund. It is a good idea to keep your receipt and take a picture of the UPC codes, just in case you get sick.

If you store your cereal in a separate container like so many people do, the best practice (if you do not know the packaging) is to just throw it away to be on the safe side. You will want to wash your container with warm soapy water to prevent the spread of the bacteria.

Retailers are removing the products from shelves to prevent further illness, which obviously leaves gaps in store shelves more frequently than we like to see.

How concerning is this outbreak?

So far, 71 people have been sickened by Honey Smacks in 31 states. Of these, 24 people have been hospitalized. As a parent, this is alarming. I would go as far as to say it’s scary. We want to do the best for our children as we possibly can, but often find that the things we think are harmless end up doing the most harm. A simple bowl of cereal could land a child in the hospital. That’s terrifying!

As a parent myself, we have really started to branch away from traditional brands and have started to source as much of our foods locally and prepare them with home grown ingredients. Meats, vegetables, and even our own eggs are used from sources we are comfortable with or even right in our own backyard – granted, we know how to properly raise our chickens.

Often people pick and make jokes about others being so self-sufficient when it comes to their own ingredients, but with the recent surge in product recalls, we feel that our family can never been too cautious.

Kellogg’s and so many other trusted brands are being hit with these recalls, and they are names we have seen our entire lives. Most recently, it seems like every time we open our computers the first thing we are inundated with is news of another mass recall. This week alone in our area we have seen recalls for not only Honey Smacks cereal, but also eggs (again), cut and packaged watermelon, baked beans, and even ground beef. This leaves a fear that often people can’t shake. This anxiety over what food will be recalled next can lead to some serious mental and emotional stress. No parent would want to give something to their kids that would make them so sick they would have to be hospitalized. On the same hand, they would not want to ingest something that would render themselves so sick that they couldn’t take care of their children.

What if I am sick?

While doing some online reading about Salmonella poisoning, I found that, while many people often do not seek medical attention, if you know for a fact you have eaten something that contained possible Salmonella contamination, you should seek medical attention. Seriously, this is not a drill. Personally, I was not sure how one would be tested for this type of poisoning, but it is a simple stool sample which is analyzed by a doctor. It is easier than one thinks.

While the recalls keep coming and the fears rage, try to stay calm. Remember that, while there are 1.4 million Americans affected by Salmonella each year, only 23,000 end up hospitalized and 450 of those result in death. The census says there are 325.7 million people currently residing in the United States. The chances of actually becoming poisoned with Salmonella is quite slim, but still alarming. Which only the more conveys my point, getting medical attention is key!

What can I do?

In the times to come, keep an eye on the internet or other news media sources, pay attention when shopping in stores and read warnings on shelves. Our local stores post information on recalls on a bulletin board, so that people can see them in case they are not aware and we advise people to check their stores as well. Paying attention to the warnings and recalls is definitely a first step in steering clear from Salmonella contamination.

We are also starting to use our local Farmer’s Markets since we are in the height of the local growing season as well. We know where the farmer’s live and how they grow things, we know the chemicals they use and some use none at all. Knowing where your food comes from and how it has been handled is a great feeling at the end of the day. Just make sure you wash and cook them correctly.

Commercial factory-made foods allow for a lot of room for contamination as opposed to smaller batches grown and harvested by the local farmer. This is partially due to the long road and many hands the food undergoes from the farm to your grocery basket.

Protect your family and friends and stay alert to warnings and recalls in the coming days as we feel there are going to be more and more throughout the summer months. Stay tuned to MakeFoodSafe for updates and new information on all of the recalls and what to do if you have foods that may be contaminated. As always remember to wash your hands!

By: Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)