May 22, 2019

Stericycle: Recalls Declined in First Quarter 2019; Shutdown to Blame?

According to Stericycle Expert Solutions, which releases a summary of recall trends every quarter, recalls of food, pharmaceutical, and consumer products declined “significantly” for the first time since 2012 in the first quarter of 2019. The press release states that “The declines were largely due to reduced oversight from the government shutdown earlier this year which stopped or limited many government safety inspections for food, pharmaceutical, automotive, medical device, and consumer products, the industries tracked in the Stericycle Recall Index. When the shutdown ended at the end of January, it took several more weeks for the regulatory agencies to ramp safety inspections back up to normal levels.”

Stericycle Says Recalls Declined in First Quarter 2019; Shutdown to Blame?

The shutdown lasted for 5 weeks from December 2018 to January 2019. FDA recalls fell 36.5% to 99, the lowest quarter since Q1 2016. Recalled food units increased 67.2% to 79 million, which is higher than four of the previous five quarters. Undeclared allergens were the top cause of FDA recalls for the second consecutive quarter. More than 17% of FDA food recalls were products that were distributed nationwide, the second highest since Q4 2016.

The top FDA food categories based on recalls were prepared foods at 24, followed by produce at 12, baked goods at 11, and dairy at 9. The top USDA categories based on recalls were poultry at 41%, pork at 23.1%, and seafood at 15.4%.

For USDA inspected foods, which include meat and seafood products, recalls decreased 7.1% to 39, while the total pounds of food recalled decreased 91.6% to just over 1.4 million. Foreign material contamination was the top cause of USDA pounds at 37.9%. The most common foreign material was plastic.

Chris Harvey, Director of Recall Solutions at Stericycle said in a statement, “While it’s usually good news for consumers when recall rates decline the Q1 2019 numbers are misleading. Fewer inspections mean more potentially dangerous products entered the market unnoticed during this period, which could also have an impact in the months ahead.”

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