TASTE
12/09/2013 08:11 am ET | Updated Dec 09, 2013

The 11 Most Controversial Food Screwups Of 2013

2013 was a big year for controversies in the food world -- from food safety scares that affected multiple continents to the complete decline of an empire for one of the country's most popular celebrity chefs.

Here are 11 messed up things that happened in food this year:

  • 1 Paula Deen's Empire Crumbles
    Getty
    Perhaps if there is one lesson to be learned from this year's Paula Deen saga, it is that you want to have people in your corner. When stuff gets ugly and then it gets worse, you need to learn from your mistakes and make some apologies. That doesn't always happen, though.
  • 2 Amy's Baking Company Goes Bonkers
    The neverending saga of restaurateurs Amy and Samy Bouzaglo almost seems like one giant hoax. Why do they keep freaking out in public forums and then denying they ever did anything? We're guessing we have not heard the last of them.
  • 3 Horse Meat Invades Europe
    AP
    Europe was in pure pandemonium mode earlier this year when horse meat was found in everything from Taco Bell food to IKEA meatballs. While the issue was not precisely one of food safety, it was a huge quality control issue. Moreover, the horse meat scandal illuminated the many steps there are in the food distribution network... and how easy it is for something to go wrong.
  • 4 GMO Labeling Debate Heats Up
    Getty
    If Big Food has anything to say about it, don't expect to see GMO labels on food packaging any time soon. Major food corporations poured millions of dollars to fight GMO labeling bills in various states this year. And it turns out, money talks -- the bills in Washington and California were defeated.
  • 5 Food Safety Scares Worry Consumers
    Getty
    There were several major food safety issues this year. For one, Consumer Reports found that more than half of ground turkey was contaminated with fecal bacteria. And it doesn't look like things will be getting any better -- the USDA is deciding whether to speed up poultry production lines. In other words, the rates of inspection per bird are quickened. Additionally, between the FDA shutting down all inspections during sequestration and all the various food recalls, 2013 was not a banner year for food safety.
  • 6 Time Names Gods Of Food, Ignores Goddesses
    The topic of women in the restaurant industry has been discussed ad nauseum, yet prominent articles that feature only male chefs continue. Why did this particular piece hit such a nerve? Maybe because people are tired, annoyed and bored of reading about the same people while others are ignored. And sexism still very much exists, even if people aren't trying to offend.
  • 7 Barilla CEO Makes Offensive Statement About Gay People
    There was massive backlash after the Barilla Pasta CEO said he wouldn't feature gay families in advertisements because he liked the "traditional family." While the company has since announced a Diversity Inclusion Board, it might be too little, too late.
  • 8 Chipotle's Haunting Ad Prompts Discussion Of Corporate Responsibility
    Chipotle's ad featuring a harrowing look at industrial food production was probably the ad of 2013. Was it genuine? While Chipotle is a leader in the fast food industry for its sourcing practices, it's far from perfect. Critics were swift to point out that the ad is emotionally manipulative and not entirely truthful. Still, it definitely got people talking.
  • 9 Sriracha Factory Disturbs City Residents
    Sriracha might be a universally beloved condiment, but its production methods are apparently less so. As of this writing, the factory has been shut down as a result of the smell permeating from the factory. While fears of a shortage are probably unfounded, there's nothing like some scaremongering to make people realize how they can't live without the stuff.
  • 10 Woman Blogs About Making 300 Sandwiches To Get A Proposal
    Getty
    Want to snag yourself a man? This woman does, and she's got to make 300 sandwiches before she sees a ring. The Internet let out one big collective groan over this ridiculousness.
  • 11 Martha Stewart Offends Bloggers, Posts Terrible Food Photos
    AP
    Martha Stewart upset bloggers this fall when she made some digs at their non-expert status (which she's since walked back from). But then she got people riled up for another reason -- her terrible #StrugglePlates she posted on Twitter (not to mention her various crazy tweets). We expected better from a lifestyle and food guru.

CONVERSATIONS