Salmonella top food safety problem in 2012

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON – Undeclared allergens, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) were the top three food safety incidences reported to the Food and Drug Administration during 2012, according to the agency’s third Reportable Food Registry (RFR) annual report. The report, published May 1, reviewed food safety incidence reports filed with the RFR between the dates of Sept. 8, 2011 to Sept. 7, 2012.

In the RFR annual reports for 2010 and 2011, Salmonella ranked ahead of undeclared allergens as the most reported food safety incidence.

Reported food safety incidences associated with undeclared allergens, Salmonella and Lm led all other food safety threats by a wide margin, with allergens making up 37.9 percent of reports in 2012, Salmonella 28.1 percent and Lm 21.4 percent. The next closest reported food safety incidence was associated with un-eviscerated fish at 2.7 percent.

“Year 3 demonstrated a 23 percent increase to 85 entries (in the RFR), up from 69 primary entries in year 1, in the number of primary reports for undeclared major food allergens, with the bakery commodity accounting for 18 of the total of 85 entries,” according to the report. “Within bakery, cookies and cakes were the predominantly reported food types. The 11 entries for the chocolate/confections/candy commodity were for products such as chocolate or yogurt coated dried fruits, icings/ganaches, and chocolate candies.”

Undeclared milk was the most reported allergen in the annual report. There were 35 specific incidences reported in 2012, up from 20 apiece in 2010 and 2011.

Data from the RFR report indicated the “produce - raw agricultural commodity” category accounted for the majority of Salmonella-related reports during 2012. While Salmonella ranked second highest in the number of reports at 63 in 2012, it represented a decrease from 2010 and 2011, when there were 86 reports associated with Salmonella each year.

“The largest decrease in Salmonella was observed in the spices and seasonings commodity, with a total of five primary entries in year 3 compared to 23 in year 2, a difference of 18 primary entries,” the FDA said. “This decline, in combination with the decrease of four entries in the animal food/feed commodity, accounts for the overall 26.7 percent decrease in Salmonella-associated primary entries in year 3.”

There were 48 reports associated with Lm in 2012, a 45 percent increase over the number of reports in 2010. The fresh cut produce category accounted for approximately one-third of the reports, with many linked to packaged salad products. Dairy, specifically cheese, accounted for 11 of the entries related to Lm.

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