Six times as many foods products were affected by recalls in the US from July to September compared to Q2 - with potential listeria contaminations accounting for 25% of the affected products.
According to a report, the quarterly ExpertRECALL Index, there were 117 documented food recalls reported to the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), affecting nearly 40 million products – around six times more than for the second quarter from March to June 2011.
The ExpertRECALL Index, which tracks recall data for food, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, consumer and children’s products, gathers its data from the two primary US federal agencies which oversee recalls – the FDA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The prompt for recalls increased in the quarter, with allergen concerns accounting for more than 50% of food recalls reported to the FDA and Listeria accounting for 25% of product returns.
The recent cantaloupe related listeria outbreak, which to date has killed 29 people and infected a further 139 across 28 states, was recently declared the worst foodborne outbreak since 1924 and the worst in modern US food safety history.
It is essential that food manufacturers and retailers pay close attention to recall trends and the compliance of the recall process.
Class 1 recalls nearly 50%
Of the reported recalls, around 45% were listed as Class 1, where “there is a reasonable probability that the product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.”
Around another 45% were listed as Class 2 – “a situation in which the product could cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote.”
Class 3 recalls, where “the product is not likely to cause adverse health consequences,” accounted for the rest of the reported recalls.
Low Salmonella record
Elsewhere, potential Salmonella contamination recalls, which accounted for around 13% of all food recalls during Q3, were at the lowest level recorded in the last five quarters.
A further three recalls (5%) were as a result of foreign materials in food products, and E.coli accounted for just 1.8% of recalls.
Of the third quarter recalls, 30 affected customers across the US, 17 affected domestic and international customers and six affected only customers outside the US.
These trends were calculated from FDA enforcement reports and news releases published in the agency’s website.