The Biggest Food Recalls In Target History

Target shopping cart by Target storefron
Target shopping cart by Target storefron - ZikG/Shutterstock

If it feels like you're hearing more about food recalls these days, you'd be right. A new report from the citizen-funded Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) found that food and drink recalls are at their highest levels since before the pandemic. From lead-tainted children's applesauce to contaminated canteloupe, consumers are becoming sick from eating unsafe food. If you want to keep informed, the FDA offers a recall subscription service where you can enter your email and be alerted to recall events.

Nearly half of food and drink recalls in 2023 came from undeclared allergens, while a quarter were due to food tainted with dangerous bacteria. None of the large retailers are free of these problems; Walmart, Aldi, and Trader Joe's have all had their share of recalls. Target, the eighth largest retailer in the world, is no exception. In this article, we shine the spotlight on Target and take a look at some of the most notable recalls it has issued over the years.

Read more: 20 Frozen Foods Costco Shoppers Swear By

Market Pantry White Fudge Animal Cookies Contained Metal

bear shaped cookie container
bear shaped cookie container - Target

Target's in-store brand, Market Pantry, offers a variety of food products at a reasonable price, making it popular among shoppers. In particular, they really seem to enjoy Market Pantry's White Fudge Animal Cookies. The cookies get high marks from reviewers, with an overall 4.4 out of 5 stars on the Target website. However, what's not enjoyable is munching on a piece of metal wire as you indulge in a cookie.

In August 2022, D. F. Stauffer Biscuit Co., Inc. announced a recall of the Market Pantry White Fudge Animal Cookies packaged in the 44 ounce jar, due to the possibility they contained small pieces of metal. Customers allegedly found bits of wire baked inside the cookies, so the recall was issued nationwide. According to the FDA notice, "Foodborne foreign objects that are hard, sharp, and large are more likely to cause serious injury or dental injury." Fortunately, no injuries were reported with the cookies.

Over 60 Quaker Oats Recalled For Salmonella Contamination

box of Quaker Big Chewy bar
box of Quaker Big Chewy bar - The Quaker Oats Company

Target was one of the many retailers affected by a massive Quaker Oats recall. In December 2023, Quaker Oats recalled over 40 of its products for possible salmonella contamination. Only one month later, the recall had expanded to more than 60 products, including granola bars and cereal.

Salmonella is second in the country for causing food poisoning, followed only by norovirus. However, it's the leading cause of hospitalization and death caused by food illness. Salmonella poisoning causes gastrointestinal issues, such as cramping and diarrhea, in healthy adults. Most people will recover within a week without needing to go to the hospital. However, the elderly, young children, and those with weakened immune systems may come down with more severe symptoms. Luckily, Quaker Oats did not report any illnesses due to this recall, however, it was still widespread and affected many products nationwide. The plant where the affected products came from has been closed since December 2023.

Market Pantry's Mixed Frozen Veggies Recalled For Listeria

close up of frozen vegetables
close up of frozen vegetables - Issaurinko/Getty Images

In 2016, the country suffered through a large recall of packaged frozen vegetables. National Frozen Foods Corporation announced a recall on its frozen veggies that had been sold to Target, Walmart, Costco, Safeway, and Trader Joe's throughout the United States and Canada. The recall began with 15 products sold in 30 states, including Target brand Market Pantry's Frozen Mixed Vegetables and Frozen Peas, and later expanded to include 358 products.

The announcement was made after seven people grew ill from a listeria infection, which is caused by consuming foods that have been contaminated with the listeria bacteria. This bacteria is so hardy it can even survive being frozen. A listeria infection generally causes mild stomach issues in healthy adults. However, pregnant people, babies, older adults, and those with weakened immune symptoms have a higher risk of severe illness. Consumers were advised to either discard the affected veggie packages or return them for a refund.

Buns Recalled For Possible Hard Plastic Pieces

packaged hamburger buns
packaged hamburger buns - Eka Arei/Shutterstock

In July 2019, just when Americans were firing up their grills for summertime cookouts, a major recall was issued for bread, hamburger, and hot dog buns sold in 19 states. Flower Foods, a company that makes buns and bread products for Target's in-house brand, Market Pantry, announced the voluntary recall in a press release when it discovered the "potential presence of small pieces of hard plastic that may have been introduced during production." However, the company did not describe exactly where the plastic pieces came from or how they made their way into the dough.

The recall included Market Pantry's hot dog and hamburger buns, Wonder white hot dog buns, and Sunbeam hamburger and hot dog buns. Flower Foods requested that consumers return their products to the retailer for a full refund. If consumed, these plastic pieces could create a choking hazard. Fortunately, there were no known reports of people eating the affected food and becoming injured.

Target's Ground Turmeric May Have Contained Lead

bowl of turmeric powder with scoop
bowl of turmeric powder with scoop - Svetlanak/Getty Images

Turmeric is a fragrant, vibrantly colored spice traditionally used in South Asian cuisine, with a long history and many known health benefits. Unfortunately, this popular spice has been linked with high levels of lead. Some companies in Bangladesh have used lead chromium to color the turmeric with even brighter shades of yellow. Although it may produce beautiful hues, the resulting product is toxic, as lead can cause cognitive defects and other conditions.

In 2016, Target's Market Pantry brand issued a recall of its ground turmeric powder for containing high levels of lead. The manufacturer, Gel Spice of New Jersey, said it had discovered excessive levels of lead in the turmeric when conducting a routine sampling of the product. Adding lead chromate to turmeric powder is a problem that has been going on in Bangladesh since the 1980s. A research article published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health in 2014 demonstrated that adulterated turmeric from Bangladesh is a possible source of lead exposure for children in the country.

Nationwide Recall Of Frozen Fruit

bowl of frozen fruit with mint
bowl of frozen fruit with mint - Yingko/Getty Images

Packaged frozen fruit is a convenient way to whip up an easy and tasty smoothie. However, frozen fruit can come with unwanted bacteria. In 2023, Target dealt with a recall of Good & Gather frozen fruit. The various products involved in the recall were sold under different names and included organic cherries and berries, dark sweet whole pitted cherries, mango strawberry blend, mixed fruit blend, mango chunks, triple berry blend, and blueberries.

The voluntary recall was announced by Target's frozen fruit supplier, Sunrise Growers Inc. The company explained its fruit had come in contact with pineapple supplied by a third party contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Although no illnesses were reported, the nationwide recall spanned five other large retailers in addition to Target. Listeria is most likely to contaminate foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, soft cheese, and deli meat. According to the CDC, there are about 1,600 cases of listeria poisoning in the U.S. each year.

Contaminated Flour Caused Salmonella Illnesses In 13 States

woman weighing flour
woman weighing flour - Munro/Getty Images

It's more than the eggs that should prevent you from eating raw cookie dough. Although people don't always think about it in this way, flour is considered a raw food. According to the FDA, flour can contain potentially harmful bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli. Cooking it kills the bacteria, making the baked product safe to eat. Target shoppers found this out the hard way when flour sold in 2023 caused a multistate outbreak of salmonella.

The illnesses were linked to General Mills Gold Medal bleached and unbleached flour sold at various retailers, including Target stores. The items included 2, 5, and 10-pound bags. The CDC reported 14 cases across 13 states. General Mills asked consumers to throw away any products connected with the recall. To be cautious, the FDA also reminded the public never to eat dough containing raw flour and to wash their hands after handling it.

Over 25,000 Cases Of Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccinos recalled Due To Pieces Of Glass

bottle of Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino
bottle of Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino - Target

The last thing you want to occur when you grab your store-bought bottled frappuccino and head out the door in the morning is to take a big chug of broken glass. Unfortunately, that was a real possibility for people who purchased Starbucks vanilla Frappuccino bottles from Target in February 2023. PepsiCo, which distributes bottled drinks for Starbucks, voluntarily recalled over 25,000 cases (302,400 total bottles).

The bottles weren't sold at Starbucks stores, but across the nation at various retail outlets, including Target. Thankfully, there were no reports of injuries from the consumption of the drinks. The FDA classified the recall as a Class II, which it defines on its website as, "a situation in which use of or exposure to a violative product may cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote." The FDA uses three classes of categories for recalls with Class I being the greatest hazard.

15,000 Units Of Packaged Fresh Organic Basil Recalled For A Parasite

basil leaves on a cutting board
basil leaves on a cutting board - Melica/Shutterstock

Fresh basil topping off a simple Caprese salad is the perfect summertime dish. This fragrant and versatile herb is delicious in salads, on pasta, and much more. However, nobody wants their Caprese salad to contain a hidden ingredient like Cyclospora. This tiny parasite can only be seen under a microscope but can still cause a lot of damage when people consume it. Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by bacteria that can make people very ill with flu-like symptoms.

In 20202, Target issued a recall on fresh basil packages when its Good & Gather Organic Basil was suspected to be carrying this dangerous parasite. Shenandoah Growers, Inc. voluntarily recalled 15,000 units of fresh organic basil clamshells sold in 11 states. Consumers were advised to throw out any packages of possibly contaminated basil and to contact the store for refunds. There were no reports of illnesses from this recall.

66 Tons Of Ground Beef Recalled For E. Coli

close up ground beef
close up ground beef - Lauri Patterson/Getty Images

A massive recall on the nation's ground beef supply occurred in 2018 when 66 tons of ground beef were suspected to be contaminated with E. coli. The packages were sold at various retail locations, including Target stores. The products included Market Pantry ground beef and ready-made burger patties. The contaminated meat, distributed by Cargill Meat Solutions, caused 17 illnesses and at least one death.

While most E. coli are harmless bacteria found in animal and human intestines, some can make people extremely ill. Food contaminated with E. coli can cause diarrhea, pneumonia, sepsis, and urinary tract infections. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to contamination. One issue with recalls on ground meat is that many consumers purchase the products and freeze them for later. Unfortunately, freezing doesn't kill E. coli bacteria, so some shoppers may have stored potentially dangerous beef in their freezers and forgotten about it.

27 Target Distribution Centers Had To Pull Organic Jasmine Rice Due To A Weevil Infestation

close up of adult weevils
close up of adult weevils - Kungfu01/Shutterstock

If accidentally munching on a weevil in your rice dish makes you squeamish, you will be happy not to have eaten Target's Good & Gather Organic Jasmine Rice during the fall of 2023. The manufacturer, Otis McAllister, issued a voluntary recall of the rice at 27 Target distribution centers upon discovering weevils in the packages. Jasmine rice is grown primarily in Thailand, and Thailand is home to a type of tropical beetle known as the weevil. These little bugs love rice and are usually removed from the crops before production.

Weevils may be unappealing to find in your food, but they aren't dangerous. However, their presence in your rice or rice cereal can be a sign of poor manufacturing practices, such as issues with storage and handling. Experts say if you find a few stray weevils in your bag of rice, you don't need to throw it away. However, you'll want to remove the bugs and rinse the rice thoroughly before cooking.

Charcuterie Meats Contaminated With Salmonella Led To 104 People Infected In 33 States

charcuterie board with glass of wine
charcuterie board with glass of wine - Mediterranean/Getty Images

Nothing can ruin a dinner party more than sending your guests home with salmonella poisoning. Unfortunately, charcuterie meats from Fratelli Beretta that were sold in stores across the country, including Target, caused 104 salmonella infections in over 33 states. The meat was sold right in the middle of the holiday season, just in time for gatherings with all the fixings, including charcuterie boards. The CDC first began investigating illnesses in November 2023, and the last known case was reported in February 2024.

Fortunately, no deaths were reported due to the recalled meat. The CDC believes it is likely many more people got sick, but their illnesses were probably mild enough that they didn't need to go to the hospital and never reported it. The total amount of food included in the recall was 11,097 pounds of Busseto Foods brand ready-to-eat charcuterie meat product.

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