SAGE's 2015 report covers the calendar year up to September

Recalls rise for USDA-FSIS, decline for other agencies - SAGE

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: Istock/Dejan Stanisavljevic
Picture: Istock/Dejan Stanisavljevic

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Regulatory agencies in the US, Canada and Europe have seen a decline in recalls this year except for the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS), according to SAGE Food Safety Consultants.

The report from the consulting firm, which provides guidance, crisis communications management and training on food safety to businesses, covers the calendar year until September.

Recalls and withdrawals in the US, Canada, and Europe due to microbiological contamination have been common with only USDA-FSIS noting a decline but the agency has seen an increase overall.

Undeclared allergens are also continuing to influence recall trends globally, said SAGE.  

USDA-FSIS notifications

The USDA-FSIS 2015 recalls year-to-date have already surpassed the number reported for 2014.

Just over 10% are related to the peanut contaminated spice used by several companies in the manufacture of multiple products recalled. 

Allergen recalls for meat products have been the most prominent, found the report.

“A variety of imported beef, chicken, and pork products were recalled for non-compliance pertaining to USDA-FSIS import regulations. USDA-FSIS updated existing regulations and implemented a new rule on November 18, 2014, which could be an explanation for the rise in these types of recalls.”

USDA-FSIS will no longer accept a foreign government’s guarantee to replace a lost or incorrect foreign inspection certificate, which requires imports to be fully compliant at inspection.

“If USDA regulated product is found to have by-passed this inspection process, the product(s) will be ordered to be recalled. The rise in these types of recalls confirms that the new rule is having an impact.”

sage recall incidents
Recalls for USDA-FSIS rose but started from a smaller base

FDA recalls

There have been 1,652 product notifications reported this year as of September 16, according to the FDA’s Enforcement Report.

Microbiological contamination was the top reason for recalls followed closely by undeclared allergens.

“Mass” or “large scale” recalls involve multiple products and lot codes and are often multi-state.

“The large-scale recall involving undeclared peanut protein in a spice ingredient that plagued the industry at the end of 2014 continued well into the first part of 2015,” ​said SAGE.

“One half of the large scale recalls were the result of a peanut contaminated spice that was used in hundreds of products. This enormous recall spanned multiple product categories including deli and ready to eat products, frozen appetizers, condiments, and, of course, spices and seasonings.

“Another recall involving a peanut contaminated paprika spice affected several ready to eat deli products as well as a moderate number of USDA products.”

Other recalls involved Listeria in ice cream and sliced apples.

Multiple recalls driven by a single contaminated ingredient started in 2007 when Salmonella contaminated peanut ingredients were shipped nationwide for use in peanut butters and various other products.

“In the last two years, we have seen more examples of recalls being caused by a contaminated ingredient being used in numerous products across several categories,” ​according to the report.

CFIA and RASFF decline

After reaching a record number in 2014, CFIA recalls year to date have decreased significantly.

Last year, undeclared allergens accounted for 65% of recalls followed by 25% for microbiological reasons. However, so far, recalls for microbiological reasons have seen an increase and make up 45% of the total recalled items.

As was the case last year, Listeria and Salmonella are the main pathogenic contaminants causing recalls in this category. Canada has seen a 30% decline in allergen recalls to date in 2015. 

The European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) may also see a decline based on year-to-date numbers.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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