INDIANAPOLIS — Food and beverage recalls initiated by the Food and Drug Administration during the first quarter of 2019 fell 36.5% to 99, the second lowest quarter since the third quarter of 2015 and the third lowest total since at least 2010, according to Stericycle Expert Solutions’ Recall Index.
Stericycle Expert Solutions attributed the decline primarily to reduced oversight as a result of the government shutdown earlier this year, which stopped or limited many government safety inspections for food and beverages.
“While it’s usually good news for consumers when recall rates decline, the Q1 2019 numbers are misleading,” said Chris Harvey, director of recall solutions at Stericycle Expert Solutions. “Fewer inspections mean more potentially dangerous products entered the market unnoticed during this period, which could also have an impact in the months ahead. Having a recall plan in place could never be more important as we track the repercussions.”
During the quarter, 30.8% of F.D.A. recalls based on units were due to undeclared allergens, the second consecutive month that undeclared allergens have been the top cause of F.D.A. food recalls and recalled F.D.A. food units. Foreign material accounted for 30.8% of F.D.A. recalls, and no inspection was 17.9%.
The top food categories based on recalls was prepared foods, at 24, followed by produce (12), baked foods (11) and dairy (9).
The top U.S. Department of Agriculture category based on recalls was poultry, at 41%. It was followed by pork, at 23.1%; seafood, 15.4%; beef, 10.3%; and multiple, 10.3%.
According to Stericycle Expert Solutions, 17.2% of the F.D.A. food recalls were of products that had been distributed nationwide, which marks the second highest percentage since the fourth quarter of 2016.