Allergens again top reason for food recalls

Nuts_blogAllergen mislabeling or contamination issues continue to be the leading cause for food recalls, according to a new report.

During the third quarter of 2013, about 40 percent of food recalls were associated with food allergens. This represents the “single largest cause of food recalls” for those initiated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to Stericycle ExpertRECALL, a company that oversees product recalls. It represents an ongoing trend – food allergens have been the first or second leading cause for food recalls for the past seven quarters. In the second quarter, food allergens accounted for about 60 percent of FDA-associated recalls.

Numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) tell a similar story – like last quarter, undeclared allergens were the main cause of recalls, with seven of the 14 USDA recalls of meat, poultry or processed egg products attributed to allergens (USDA handles recalls of these products separately from FDA). Three recalls were linked to E. coli contamination.

There were 252 FDA food recalls in the third quarter – 14 percent less than the previous quarter. However, about 7 million units were affected – about double last quarter. About 44 percent were class I recalls. Salmonella, Listeria and botulism-related recalls together were associated with about 40 percent of recalls.

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