The Stericycle Recall and Notification Index revealed there were 223 alerts in Europe regarding poultry products, with bacterial contamination behind more than 93% of them.
The majority were rejected at the border and products were not placed on the market.
Salmonella was mainly responsible for contamination but the serotype was often not revealed.
Total recalls and notifications increased 24% to 959 – the third highest total since 1999.
In July, the European Commission said of 5,972 consignments examined since 20 March, including 1,566 lab checks there have been 176 rejections: 133 for Salmonella on poultry meat, five for STEC on beef, two for drug residues on horse meat and 36 for other reasons.
Additional measures and reinforced checks at EU borders involve 100% physical and 20% microbiological checks.
Scrutiny of Brazilian meat
Countries stepped up scrutiny of Brazilian meat imports after an investigation uncovered a bribe payment scheme involving businesses and government inspectors who issued health certificates for food unsuitable to eat earlier this year.
Farzad Henareh, European VP at Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS, said the investigation of inspection practices in Brazil has had a ‘serious knock-on effect’ for EU imports.
“However, recalls relating to food originating from other countries indicates that the industry still needs to employ the most rigorous approach to food safety, and the risks remain high,” he said.
“It is a complex supply chain and food traceability is a big challenge to effectively trace all products. We expect notifications to continue with products from certain lots blocked at the border consumers are not too concerned.
“There are a lot of imported vegetables, nuts and seeds from Turkey. The meat scandal will phase out and it will not be surprising if Turkey is back in [the list of recalls by country of origin], if Turkey stays out it will be interesting to look into to understand the reasons why.”
The index is based on data from the EU’s RASFF alert system.
Nut and fish notifications
The top category was poultry meat and such products (223 alerts) - the first time it has ranked in the top three since 2002. Second was fish and fish products (132) and nuts, nut products, seeds (112) in third.
Bacterial contamination (312) was the top cause of alerts for the second quarter in a row, followed by aflatoxin (107) and chemicals (93).
The top country of origin was Brazil (184), with 114 more recalls and notifications than the second highest country (Spain with 70).
The Stericycle report indicates that 66.5% of recalls originated in non-EU countries, with Brazil being the major exporter during the second quarter.
Other exporters included India with 68 recalls, Turkey with 60 and China with 51. Spain was the only European country in the top five, with 70 recalls.
The top notifying countries were the Netherlands, Italy and the UK, accounting for 41.7% of recalls and notifications.
Henareh said despite increasingly strict regulations and efforts to safeguard against potentially harmful products, every industry will encounter problems.
“Our Q2 recall index clearly shows it makes business sense to maintain risk assessments and seek out stable recall programmes in order to ensure consumer safety and avoid business disruption,” he said.
“One thing skewing numbers and to keep an eye on is the change in the supply chain with the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon and innovation in the sector.
“Shifting to online sales changes the supply chain. The point of sale is changing, groceries are purchased by consumers online, and the risk to market products is changing. In EU countries home delivery is picking up significantly, US numbers shift more rapidly but the EU is quite close.”