The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recorded 142 food recalls during the first quarter of 2012, down 19 percent from the previous quarter and down 20 percent from the same period of 2011.
More than 130 companies initiated at least one recall during the quarter, and nine companies were involved in more than one. Food recall totals were included in the Stericycle ExpertRECALL ™ Index released on May 14.
The quarterly index shows 7 million food units were recalled during the first three months of 2012, a 90 percent decrease over the last quarter of 2011 and the smallest unit count in three quarters.
Two recalls involving between 1 and 5 million units, and two accounting for between 500,000 and 1 million units were among the quarter’s largest recalls. Most recalls affected fewer than 500,000 units, according to the Index.
Customers nationwide were impacted by 46 recalls, and customers in the U.S. and at least one other country or territory were involved in 18 other recalls. Four recalls involved only international customers.
Based on FDA Enforcement Reports, 56 percent of actions were listed as Class I recalls, meaning there was a high risk to human health. Class II recalls accounted for 32 percent of the total, and Class III were involved in 12 percent of the action.
A Class II recall poses only a temporary health risk, or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote, while Class III means there the product is not likely to cause adverse health consequences.
Undeclared allergens (or related concerns) were the cause of 40 percent of the first quarter recalls. This continues a spike in allergen-related recalls that began during the second quarter of 2011 and continues now as the No. 1 cause for food recalls.
Listeria contamination continued for a second quarter as the second most cited cause for food recalls, followed by Salmonella contamination. There were no recalls during the period for either botulism or E. coli, according to the ExpertRECALL™ Index.
Indianapolis-based Stericycle ExpertRECALL manages food and beverage, pharmaceutical, medical device, and consumer and juvenile products. While its quarterly data shows drug recalls are down, like food call backs, it also reported a 160 percent increase in medical device recalls.
“Companies should be doing everything possible to minimize the safety concerns that would result in recalls,” says Mike Rozembajgier, the company’s vice president of recalls.
Stericycle ExpertRECALL charts