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Bacteria, undeclared milk top causes for recalls in 2Q

Courtesy of Stericycle

After three consecutive quarters with 200 or more food recalls under the Food and Drug Administration’s jurisdiction, the second quarter of 2017 broke the trend.

From May through June this year the there were 178 food recalls of FDA-regulated products in the U.S., according to a report compiled by Stericycle Expert Solutions Inc. That’s an 11 percent decline compared to the first three months of 2017. Even with that decrease, Q2 for 2017 still saw more food recalls of FDA regulated foods logged than were recorded from Q1 of 2013 through Q2 of 2016.

In the realm of meat, poultry and certain egg products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s records showed a 47 percent increase in recalls for 2Q this year compared to the same period in 2016. The USDA posted 47 recalls from May through June this year, the second highest number for a three-month period since 2005, according to Stericycle’s quarterly report.

While individual units recalled under FDA regulations dropped about 3 percent compared with 2Q of 2016, with about 89.3 million units pulled, the USDA — which measures recalls in pounds rather than units — saw a 307 percent increase. From May through June this year USDA supervised the recall of more than 10.2 million pounds of meat, poultry and egg products.

For both FDA and USDA, the second quarter this year saw more volume recalled than was pulled during 18 of the past 21 quarters, Stericycle reported.

Undeclared milk was responsible for the vast majority of the volume of food recalled under the USDA’s regulations during the 2Q this year, accounting for 80.9 percent of the foods recalled under USDA jurisdiction. In the first three months of 2017 less than 1 percent of USDA recalls were because of undeclared milk.

The primary cause of the milk allergen recalls was the failure of a bread/cracker crumb supplier to declare milk on its products’ labels, which resulted in producers downstream failing to declare milk on their labels.

On the FDA side, bacterial contamination was the reason behind the recall of 86.6 percent of the food units pulled under the supervision of the agency. The remaining 13.4 percent of FDA recalls were because of undeclared allergens at 8.4 percent of the total, foreign material at 4.8 percent and “other” at 0.2 percent.

Of the FDA-regulated foods recalled during 2Q this year, 70 percent were prepared foods, which only accounted for 2.9 percent of FDA recalls during the first three months of 2017. Other highlights from the second quarter report include:

FDA recalls by categories

  • Prepared foods 23.6 percent;
  • Dairy 11.2 percent;
  • Seafood 10.1 percent; and
  • Supplements 10.1 percent.

USDA recalls by pounds

  • Poultry 72.3 percent;
  • Multiple ingredients 18.8 percent;
  • Beef 6.3 percent; and
  • Pork 1.7 percent.

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