Allergens remain significant threat to food safety

by Staff
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INDIANAPOLIS – Undeclared allergens caused 60% of recalls from the Food and Drug Administration and 65% of recalls from the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the second quarter of 2013, according to a quarterly recall index from Stericycle ExpertRecall.

“Allergens continue to be a top recall trend that we see quarter over quarter,” said Mike Rozembajgier, vice-president of Stericycle ExpertRecall. “Manufacturers should make sure that they are reviewing labels and formulations related to a company’s allergen control program before an inspector arrives onsite.”

The F.D.A. documented 292 food recalls during the quarter, down 8% from the previous quarter. Recalls affected about 3.5 million items, which was nearly a third of the approximate 9.7 million items recalled in the first quarter.

Of the 116 companies that initiated recalls during the quarter, 45 faced more than one recall. One company faced 26 recalls, followed by another with 18 recalls and one with 13 recalls.

More than a third of the F.D.A.’s food recalls during the quarter were categorized as Class I, or having a high probability of causing serious health consequences or death if consumed.

Foodborne illness, including Salmonella, listeria and E. coli, accounted for a fourth of recalls during the quarter, down from 65% of the first-quarter recalls. Foreign material in food products resulted in 13 recalls, topping the historical average.

The U.S.D.A. noted 17 recalls of meat, poultry or processed egg products during the quarter, which affected 250,829 lbs of product, down about 40% from last quarter’s 450,415 lbs of recalled product. Undeclared allergens caused 11 of the U.S.D.A.’s recalls, followed by two recalls related to extraneous materials and two listeria-caused recalls.

While the number of recalls related to foodborne pathogens decreased to 3 from 9 during the previous quarter, 12 of the U.S.D.A.-documented recalls were categorized as Class I.

“Class I recalls put consumers at the highest risk, meaning quick action is critical for companies to protect both their consumers and their own reputations,” Mr. Rozembajgier said. “With social media making it easier and easier for consumers to monitor recall activity, it is more important than ever for food manufacturers to protect their supply chains and institute plans and processes that minimize the chance of a recall.”

Stericycle ExpertRecall, based in Indianapolis, offers recall logistics and regulatory compliance for consumer product, pharmaceutical, medical device, juvenile product and food and beverage recalls. The company’s ExpertRecall Index examines recall trends and issues that affect consumers and manufacturers.
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