The Stericycle Recall Index has been tracking product recalls in the United States for five years. Recently, Stericycle announced its quarterly research findings, which most notably includes foreign material as the leading cause of recalled FDA units.

Recall data provided by the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture placed heavy metal at the top of the recall list this quarter, overtaking undeclared allergens. According to the Stericycle report, recalls in the food and beverage sector remained relatively steady. Additionally, FDA food recalls declined slightly by 8 percent to 138, while the number of food “units” pulled from the market increased  6 percent.

Courtesy of Stericycle

Although the USDA recalls remained the same at 28, the total of recalled pounds of beef, poultry, pork, seafood and other products “under the USDA’s watch” increased 69 percent to just more than 1 million pounds.

For the first time since Q1 2016, beef was the top category for USDA recalled pounds “breaking up a two-quarter streak for multiple proteins.”

Flavoring was the top category for recalled FDA units at 43.3 percent, up from just 0.6 percent in Q4 2017.

At 53 percent, contamination from foreign materials – particularly metals found in food – was the leading cause of recalled FDA units, while bacterial contamination was the leading reason, at 58 percent, for USDA recalled pounds.

Overall, recalls for all products, including non-food recalls, covered by the index have increased by 33 percent in the five years since Stericycle began tracking the data. From 2012 through 2017, the biggest year for recalls overall was 2016, with Stericycle reporting a total of 3,438 recalls that year

An improving economy, globalization, and growing consumer awareness are some of the contributing factors for increased recalled units, Stericycle reported today.

“One thing didn’t change over the past five years: Consumers, manufacturers, regulators, and lawmakers remain concerned about the safety of products,” Stericycle Vice President Mike Good said in a news release last quarter, which marked the fifth anniversary of the recall index.

“What has changed is the public is paying more attention to the recall process and how effectively brands manage product recalls and notifications.”

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