Blog: Petah MarianResearch points to increased number of food scares

Petah Marian | 21 March 2011

According to research by Queens University in Belfast, the number of food scares and product recalls has "increased significantly" over the past decade and, in that period, the US had the highest number of product recalls.

The big picture: key trends in international product recalls within the food industry report found that of 2,439 recalls between 2000-2010 in the US, and 2002-2010 in the UK and Ireland, some 74% of the recalls were in the US, with 21% in the UK and 5% in the Republic of Ireland.

Dr Antony Potter at the Queen's Centre for Assured and Traceable Foods (ASSET), who conducted the research, said today (21 March) that his research outlines how the frequency and severity of recalls has increased over the past 10 years, "accompanied by significant financial implication for food producers".

"The 2008 pork recall in Ireland, for example, cost the Irish economy an estimated EUR125m," he said.

Potter emphasised the need for regulatory body testing, saying that "of the product recalls we identified, 68% were detected during routine or spot testing by regulatory bodies, and only 21% were detected by the company in question".

He also highlighted the need for food producers to invest in the traceability of their products of foods back through the supply chain.

While most recalls (56%) resulted from operational mistakes such as incorrect labelling, the presence of an undeclared ingredient, or contamination during the production process - and biological causes, such as the detection of Listeria, Salmonella and E Coli, were also a factor - a significant number of food safety alerts were actually due to food fraud and corruption by suppliers further down the supply chain," Potter said.



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