USDA reports recalls total 860K lbs. in fourth quarter

by Jeff Gelski
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INDIANAPOLIS — The US Department of Agriculture, reported 19 recalls of meat, poultry or processed egg products in the fourth quarter, according to the Stericycle ExpertRecall Index. The USDA reported recalls totaling about 860,000 lbs. of food in the fourth quarter, which compared with 450,000 lbs. in the first quarter.

According to the USDA, causes for fourth-quarter recalls included Listeria Monocytogenes (21 percent), mislabeled (16 percent), undeclared allergen (16 percent), E. Coli 0157:H7 (11 percent), no inspection (11 percent), extraneous material (5 percent), Salmonella (5 percent), processing deviation (5 percent), Staphylococcus Aureus Enterotoxin (5 percent) and transportation deviation (5 percent).

An increase in nationwide recalls in the fourth quarter of 2013 led to a 52 percent bump in the number of food units recalled by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the Stericycle ExpertRecall Index released Feb. 19. More than 10.6 million units of food recalled in the fourth quarter compared with 6.9 million units in the third quarter.

While the number of food units recalled rose, the 134 food recalls documented from FDA enforcement reports in the fourth quarter was down 47 percent from the third quarter. The food recalls in the fourth quarter tended to include more food units and to affect more people. In the fourth quarter 27 percent of documented recalls affected consumers nationwide compared with 12 percent in the third quarter. Three recall events in the fourth quarter each involved more than 1 million food units.

Stericycle ExpertRecall, Indianapolis, manages recalls for consumer products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and juvenile products as well as foods and beverages. The ExpertRecall Index aggregates and tracks cumulative recall data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, the FDA and the USDA.

While the overall number of recalls regulated by the FDA decreased in the fourth quarter, the drop masked an increase in complexity and geographic reach, according to Stericycle ExpertRecall. For example, 35 percent of pharmaceutical, medical device and food recalls affected at least two countries.

Also in the fourth quarter, the US government shut down for two weeks in October.

“The industry experienced the fewest recalls reported in the last year and half during that month, suggesting that changes to the political climate can further complicate recall management,” said Kevin Pollack, vice president of recalls for ExpertRecall.
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