The third quarter of this year saw fresh produce in the top spot in terms of the product category under FDA jurisdiction that posted the most units of food recalled, with the poultry category topping the recall list for USDA regulated foods.

In its quarterly report, Stericycle Expert Solutions showed overall decreases in the number of recalls under each agency. The Food and Drug Administration saw a 12 percent drop during the third quarter, with 129 recalls posted. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also saw a drop, posting 10 percent fewer recalls, with 26 recorded in the third quarter of 2018.

The USDA and its Food Safety Inspection Service have responsibility for meat, poultry, catfish and some egg products. The FDA oversees all other human foods, as well as animal feed.

Of the recalls under USDA jurisdiction, 42 percent involved beef; 27 percent were for pork products; 15 percent were for poultry products; and 11.5 percent involved multiple USDA categories. In terms of volume, poultry bumped beef out of the top spot. For the quarter ending Sept. 30, poultry accounted for 60 percent of the total pounds. The first two quarters this year saw beef in the No. 1 spot in terms of pounds recalled.

The top three reasons for recalls of USDA regulated food were bacterial contamination at 23 percent, lack of required inspections at 19 percent, and undeclared allergens at 19 percent. Other reasons for recalls of USDA regulated products included extraneous materials such as plastic, metal and glass. 

On the FDA side, 38.5 percent of all recalled “food units” were in the produce category, making fresh fruits and vegetables the most recalled food group.

However, in terms of numbers of recalls, prepared foods was the category with the most recalls, coming in at almost 22 percent of the FDA regulated recalls. Behind prepared foods in numbers of recalls were the categories of fresh produce at 16 percent, baked goods at 15 percent and supplements at 14 percent.

The top reason for recalls of foods under FDA’s authority was undeclared allergens, which accounted for 46 percent of the recalls in the third quarter. However, in terms of “units,” Stericycle reports bacterial contamination was the most prevalent, with 75 percent of units recalled because of it. 

An unusual number of recalls because of contamination with the cyclospora parasite is a notable point in the third quarter report from Stericycle. There were eight recalls, representing 6,476 units, recalled because of the microscopic bug.

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