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Repeat offenders drive food recalls in 2013

Repeat offenders drive food recalls in 2013

Analysis finds 28% of recalls come from foreign objects

May 17th, 2013 by Truman Lewis of ConsumerAffairs in News

Crime statistics are often driven by repeat offenders and it turns out the same is true of food recalls. Nearly three out of four food recalls in the first quarter of the year came from companies that had issued two or more recalls during the period.

The ExpertRECALL Index released this week found that more than 73% of recalls documented by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) involved companies with two or more recalls. A total of 133 food companies instituted recalls during this period, affecting 9.7 million units of products such as bread and flour products, bagged fruits and vegetables, and frozen entrees.

Many times, the multiple recalls occur because of an issue with an ingredient that is used in more than one product.

"It is not unusual for companies to face more than one recall at a time, driven largely by the fact that ingredients are used in more than one product," said Mike Rozembajgier, Vice President of Stericycle ExpertRECALL. "However, the ongoing trend of multiple product recalls can complicate the logistics of a recall, making it harder for companies to communicate to consumers and maintain trust in their brand."

USDA figures added 

For the first time since its inception, the Index includes data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which involve recalls of meat, poultry and egg products.

An analysis of data from the first quarter found that extraneous material was the single largest cause of USDA-requested recalls this quarter, accounting for more than one in four recalls (28 percent). Of these recalls, more than half were the result of traces of plastic found in products. 

Undeclared allergens were the second most frequent cause of recalls reported by the USDA, with a total of five product recalls this quarter.

A recent CDC report on the heightened levels of food allergies in children illustrates how important managing food ingredients and food labeling is. It also points to the need for companies to have a clear and well-rehearsed recall plan ready when issues arise.

Multiple recalls was also a trend echoed in the medical device industry, as close to 40% of companies named in FDA Enforcement reports faced two or more recalls in the second quarter.

The pharmaceutical industry experienced 107 drug and pharmaceutical recalls in the first quarter, an increase of 32% from the previous quarter. Compounding pharmacies continue to show frequent recall activity, with one pharmacy issuing 13 individual events.