Report: Recalls of UK meat at highest since 2002

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09 Aug 2017 --- According to a report from Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS, recalls of chicken and other poultry meats are at their highest level since 2002. It has also been revealed that chicken has overtaken red meat as the most popular meat to be consumed in the UK. 

With traditional “meat and two vegetable” meals, based on red meat, falling out of fashion and more people dining alone, the versatility of fresh poultry has seen sales soar in recent years. However, the recall report published today shows that, of those poultry products that have been recalled, as many as 9 out of 10 may contain dangerous and potentially deadly bacteria. 

The rise in poultry recalls is directly linked to the recent curtailing by the EU of meat imports from Brazil after exporters allegedly bribed inspectors to overlook practices including the processing of rotten meat, shipping product with Salmonella traces, and failing to carry out inspections. 

The Stericycle Q2 2017 Recall and Notification Index reveals that there were 223 recalls of poultry products last quarter, with bacterial contamination behind more than 93 percent of unsafe poultry meat withdrawals. Salmonella was mainly responsible for poultry contamination, and this can lead to serious health risks particularly among pregnant women, infants and the elderly. Amongst other food recalls, aflatoxins play a significant role and can affect the liver, causing acute toxicity. This can occur in food products such as nuts originating in hot, humid countries.

The poultry issue was the driving force behind an unprecedented rise in the food and beverages recall category as figures indicate food recalls have reached the third highest total since 1999. The higher-than-average volume calculates to nearly 10 food recalls every day with a total of 959 notifications in Q2, an increase of 24 percent on the previous quarter. 

The Stericycle report indicates that 66.5 percent of food recalls originated in non-EU countries, with Brazil being the major exporter during the second quarter. Other exporters included India with 68 recalls Turkey with 60 and China with 51. Spain was the only European country in the top 5, with 70 recalls. 

Farzad Henareh, European Vice President at Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS, said: “The ongoing investigation of food inspection practices in Brazil continues to have a serious knock-on effect on EU imports. However, recalls relating to food originating from other countries indicates that the industry still needs to employ the most rigorous approach to food safety, and the risks remain high. Adherence to the strict regulatory standards in the EU is an absolute must.”

Henareh spoke to FoodIngredientsFirst: “An increase in food recalls isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This shows that the relevant regulatory food agencies and manufacturers are actually being proactive and that there are safety mechanisms in place to respond to unsafe food products entering our markets.” 

“However any kind of response must be accurate and absolutely swift to prevent dangerous or contaminated food getting into the processing industry and mainstream consumer market,” he explains. 

“EU authorities and individual food agencies such as FSA in the UK, have made a lot of progress over the years around protecting consumers and ensuring food safety across Europe. The industry, however, is very complex and has a long way to go, especially in the fields of product traceability through the supply chain and dealing with recalls on operational and communication levels.” 

“In today’s global food supply industry it’s inevitable that recalls will take place. That’s why we would like to stress the importance of having a “recall plan” and that manufacturers can receive third party assistance to help them deal with recalls as they happen, and avoid brand damage or negative impact on customers,” he notes.

By Elizabeth Green

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