Food recalls appear to be more prevalent now than ever before. According to Forbes, there have been 25 food recalls in January 2016 alone. On January 26th, Whole Foods/North Atlantic Kitchens recalled roughly 73,898 pounds of frozen pepperoni pizza products due to improper labeling. On January 22nd, Giant Food Stores LLC recalled packaged Dole salads due to a listeria contamination found in other salads produced at the same facility in Ohio. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified salmonella in macadamia nuts, prompting Mahina Mele Farms, LLC to recall several brands including Izzie Macs! Macadamia Nuts and Baby Bruddah’s Mac Nut Buttah. Trader Joe’s also issued a recall last month, after testing identified salmonella in a lot of Raw Cashew Pieces.
Food recalls are increasing. “We have seen an uptick in recalls due to bacterial and viral contamination. In 2015 alone, 120 companies faced recalls due to food contamination, with 11 of them experiencing multiple recalls.” said Kevin Pollack, vice president of recalls at Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS to Forbes. The company helps brands manage food recalls. “We are less than a month into 2016 and this issue continues to challenge the food industry.”
According to Pollack, improved testing methods account for part of the rise in food recalls. Recent laws may play a role. In January 2011, President Obama signed the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law; this gives the federal government power to order a recall. “Under FSMA, the FDA has authority to order a recall of food products. Prior to FSMA, with the exception of infant formula, the FDA had to rely on food manufacturers and distributors to recall food voluntarily,” said Pollack. With the possibility of mandated recalls, companies are more inclined to issue voluntary recalls themselves.
Pollack also says consumers are reporting food safety issues more frequently to the FDA. “Today’s consumers are concerned about the food they eat,” he said. He also noted that the global supply chain has gotten more complicated over the years, leaving room for errors every step of the way. Pollack cited a cumin spice recall as an example. “Ground cumin may be sold as a spice, in a spice mix or kit, or as a minor ingredient when used in finished food products like soups and chilies.” FDA reported at the time.