INDIANAPOLISMore than 10.6 million units of recalled food represent a 52% increase in food recalls from the third quarter to the fourth quarter in 2013, according to Stericycles ExpertRecall Index. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Enforcement Reports documented 134 food recalls in 4Q13, down 47% from 3Q13. Despite this large dip in the number of events, there was an increase in complex, nationwide recalls during the last months of the year.
Driving this trend of increased recalls were three large recall events of more than 1 million units each, two of which were Class II recalls of nutritional/supplement products, a category that is receiving increasing attention from government agencies. Just 12% of recalls documented in 3Q13 affected consumers nationwide, but that figure more than doubled to 27% in the fourth quarter. This increase is particularly notable given that there were nearly 50% fewer recall events during that timeframe.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports, there were 19 recalls of meat, poultry, or processed egg products 4Q13. While the number of recalls may not be notable, pounds recalled in the quarter nearly doubled when compared to data from the 1Q13. USDA recalled approximately 450,000 pounds of food in the first quarter of the year. By 4Q13, that number grew to more than 860,000, largely driven by three recalls, representing a 91% increase in poundage.
In 4Q13, mislabeling factored among the top causes of USDA recalls for the first time in 2013, accounting for 16% of all reported events. Undeclared allergens were the cause of another 16%, and Listeria was behind an additional 21% of recalls.