Food and beverage recalls initiated by the Food and Drug Administration during the fourth quarter of 2016 rose 12% to 246, the highest mark since the first quarter of 2010, according to Stericycle Expertsolutions’ Recall Index. While the number of recalls climbed, the amount of product recalled fell during the quarter.
“There was definitely an increase in contamination recalls,” said Mike Good, vice-president of Stericycle Expertsolutions. “I think it’s important to note that does not mean there was a rise in contamination. It means issues were pinpointed more often and more accurately.”
Mr. Good said advancements in food testing are helping to drive the pace of recalls.
“We live off the phrase: ‘It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when,’” he said. “Much of it has to do with food testing and the advancements being made.”
During the quarter, 43.8% of F.D.A. recalls based on units were due to bacterial contamination. Undeclared allergens accounted for 27.6%, quality issues (16.2%), foreign material (9.9%), and other (2.5%). The ranking was unchanged compared to the third quarter, according to Stericycle Expertsolutions.In meat and poultry, which is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, poultry led in recalls initiated based on pounds. It was followed by pork, beef and blended products that may feature at least two species.