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Amount of food recalled by FDA doubles in quarter

By Joe Whitworth+

21-Nov-2013
Last updated the 21-Nov-2013 at 11:59 GMT

Photo: Masahiro Ihara/Flickr
Photo: Masahiro Ihara/Flickr

More than double the units of food was recalled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from the previous quarter, according to ExpertRECALL figures.

The figures for Q3 show seven million units of food products were recalled by the FDA in the third quarter, more than double the previous quarter.

ExpertRECALL said it remains to be seen if the findings will continue or not, but is something that will be monitored by the FDA.

However, FDA Enforcement Reports showed 252 food recalls in the third quarter of 2013, a 14% decline over the previous quarter.

According to FDA, one recall affected 2.5 million units, three recalls affected between 500,000 and one million units, and eight recalls affected between 100,000 and 500,000 units.

Of the recalls in FDA Enforcement Reports during Q3, 44% were classified as Class I recalls, 47% were Class II recalls and 9% as Class III.

Stay up to date to avoid recalls

Mike Rozembajgier, vice president of recalls at ExpertRECALL, told FoodQualityNews.com that it is essential companies stay up to date with guidelines and regulations to avoid recalls. 

“The Food Safety Modernization Act has been a driving force in companies being more prepared, having plans and ensuring testing. While it’s difficult to speculate as to one cause, regulations such as these have been driving better quality control processes and strong supply chain management.”

Stericycle ExpertRECALL helps the product recall process for manufacturers and retailers by managing notifications and response, processing and tracking and compliance and reporting.

Allergens were the single largest cause of food recalls, representing 40% reported in the third quarter. They have been the first or second largest cause of food recalls in the past seven quarters.

Allergen battle

Rozembajgier said that the trend has led USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to recognize that proper labeling, specifically declaring allergens, is directly related to food safety.

“In the past, FSIS encouraged its inspection personnel to focus on food safety rather than other protection requirements; however, as a result of this trend, undeclared allergens will now be a top priority for inspectors going forward.

“Manufacturers should make sure that they are in complete compliance with any verification processes before an inspector has arrived onsite.”

Recalls quarter were initiated by 136 companies with 40 facing more than one recall. One company faced 24 recalls, followed by three other companies that faced more than 10.

“Any company that faces multiple recalls in a quarter obviously must review their production process. They are under a microscope, and there is no room for error.

“Major or repeated recall events can require months, or even years, to rebuild a company’s reputation.

“Each recall has a different financial impact on a company, but the damage can be significant.”

USDA recalls

86% of USDA recalls were classified as Class I recalls representing the highest percentage in seven quarters.

There were 14 recalls of meat, poultry or processed egg products in the third quarter according to USDA reports.

Q3 recalls impacted 519,465 lbs. of product, which is up more than 105% from the previous quarter with 250,829 lbs. of product.

Twelve recalls were documented as Class I recalls, two were classified as Class II and none were designated as Class III recalls. Two companies faced multiple recalls this quarter.

Rozembajgier said that it’s important to have strong supply chain management and quality control while maintaining strong relationships with suppliers.

“Ultimately, however, companies need to understand that it’s not “if” a recall event will occur, but “when.” With this understanding, it becomes apparent how critical it is for companies to have a recall plan in place.

“Prevention is key, but in the event of a recall - if your company puts forth its full effort - it can avoid the irreparable reputation damage that follows a poorly handled recall.”

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