Number of food, beverage recalls climbs

by Jeff Gelski
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INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration documented 552 food and beverage recalls in the fourth quarter of 2012, a jump from 414 in the third quarter and the highest amount of food recall activity seen in the past two years, according to an ExpertRecall Index from Stericyle ExpertRecall. Averaging about six per day, the fourth-quarter recalls affected 18.4 million items, which was more than double the 8.5 million items affected in the third quarter.

Stericycle pointed out the influx in activity came before the F.D.A. in January announced two requirements proposed under the Food Safety Modernization Act. One requirement involved preventive controls for human food while another set standards for produce safety.

“And as F.D.A. continues to introduce and enforce F.S.M.A.-mandated regulations, companies need to work to ensure that they are in compliance with these new rules,” Stericycle said. “But as coming up to speed with new regulations and adjusting corporate procedures can take some time, we may see an even greater increase in recalls at first. As time passes, however, and F.D.A. implements its shift in focus to prevention, less food-related incidents likely will be reported.”

In the fourth quarter of 2012, 166 companies initiated food and beverages recalls. Sixty-one of the companies faced more than one recall. One company was involved in more than 160 events.

Also in the fourth quarter, four food and beverage recalls affected between 1 million and 5 million units while three recalls affected between 500,000 and 1 million units. The remaining recalls affected fewer than 500,000 units. Foodborne illness concerns, specifically salmonella, listeria, e. coli and botulism, accounted for about 65% of the recalls. Undeclared allergens or other allergen concerns accounted for about 28% of the recalls.

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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