Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Undeclared Allergens Behind Half of FDA’s Fourth-Quarter Recalls

Food recalls in the final three months of 2014 ticked up to 136 events, up from the previous lowest quarter of the year. The total includes recalls overseen by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The count comes from government records monitored and reported by Indianapolis-based Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS, which manages recalls.

Overall in 2014, food took a backseat to recalls in automotive, medical devices and pharmaceutical, which set records in both numbers and fines.

redRECALL_406x250In the fourth quarter of 2014, FDA saw 105 recalls involving 94 manufacturers of 13.8 million recalled units. While the number of FDA food-related recalls was down, there was a 142-percent increase over the previous quarter in the number of units or volume involved.

Half the FDA recalls were for undeclared allergens and, for the second consecutive quarter, more than 80 percent of FDA food recalls were classified as Class II events, meaning there was no immediate threat to public health.

FDA regulates about 80 percent of the food manufactured for sale in the U.S., including both foreign and domestic suppliers.

The third quarter of 2014, with just 110 recalls events — 89 for FDA and 21 for FSIS — was the low period for the year. For the year, food recalls totaled 552, with 458 falling under FDA and the other 94 managed by the USDA unit.

The number of meat, poultry and egg recalls during the final quarter of 2014 was the highest level experienced since the first quarter of 2012. During the final period, 31 companies were involved in a total of 31 recalls, with the total volume reaching 2.1 million pounds, which was 2.5 times more than during the previous quarter.

Also of note was the unusually large volume of meat recalled during the first three months of 2014. While there were only 18 FSIS recalls during the period, three of those were for more than 1 million pounds of meat, bringing the total amount of meat recalled during the first quarter to more than 8.5 million pounds. That was more than double the amount recalled during the previous two years.

In its report on 2014 U.S. recall trends, ExpertSOLUTIONS stated that the year was marked by more consumer awareness of recalls and intensified scrutiny and fines from regulatory bodies, and that the complexity of managing FDA-related recalls grew “as a result of the global nature of these events.” The company also said “recall fatigue” may be setting in as consumers are less likely to seek remedies.

ExpertSOLUTIONS also keeps track of recall trends for Europe, where 2014 saw more significant rises in food recalls and notifications. It marked a 14-percent increase in such activity for the final period of 2014. The top five countries of origin for European food recalls were Turkey, India, Poland, France and China, with fish and fish products being among the most frequently recalled products.

The report on European recalls also found that fewer notifications are getting media coverage. Recalls coming earlier in the process may be contributing to the fact they are getting less coverage or prominence than in the past.

Among top recalling countries in Europe, accounting for about 78 percent of the notices, are Italy, Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

© Food Safety News