INDIANAPOLIS – Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS reports in its “Recall Industry Spotlight” that in Q2 2016 FDA recalled food units were more than 80 times higher than Q1 and USDA recalled more than 45 times higher pounds of product in that timeframe. New, and more powerful, testing methods coupled with tighter regulations spurred the growth in recalls.
The report notes that more accurate genome testing enables companies and regulators faster identification over a wider range of products. As a result, FDA contamination recalls alone jumped 167 percent from Q1 to Q2, a level higher any quarter in 2014 or 2015.
Stricter regulations and more accurate testing methods provide food producers with both challenges and opportunities, according to the report. While recalls will be higher, manufacturers can improve their food safety, as well.
"It's not that there's necessarily more contamination, it's that the industry is getting better at detecting what's there," said Kevin Pollack, vice president, Stericycle. "These recalls increased when genome testing gave companies and regulators better tools for detecting bacteria. In the past, they might not have known what was causing an outbreak, but now it's easier to identify contamination causes and recall affected products to better protect consumers."
According to the Q2 report global food recalls have also risen, further complicating the execution of food recalls. Minor discrepancies, such as labeling errors, can trigger a recall over ingredient regulations that differ by jurisdiction.
"Disparities between US and EU regulations are already having an impact on global food recalls, and it's a trend we expect to continue. For example, companies have been forced to remove products from shelves in some European countries due to propylene glycol, which is 'generally recognized as safe' in the US," Pollack said. "The long term goal is to increase consumer safety. It's just that each jurisdiction has their own idea of how to reach that goal."The Q2 Recall Industry Spotlight report can be downloaded at stericycleexpertsolutions.com/thought-leadership/.