As the increasing number food scares causes consumers to question the safety of everyday food items, researchers at Queen's University Belfast have completed the first ever analysis of all the food recalls announced in the USA, UK and Ireland over the last decade.
The research, by Dr Antony Potter at Queen's Centre for Assured and Traceable Foods (ASSET) identified 2,439 food recalls over the past ten years including the recall of 380 million eggs in the USA in 2010 following a Salmonella outbreak at a farm in Iowa, and the 2008 pork recall in Ireland, which affect export markets in 21 countries around the world.
The research will be discussed during The Food Integrity and Traceability Conference taking place at the University this week (21-24 March). This international event, held in partnership with safefood, will showcase the latest developments in food safety and traceabilty.
Dr Potter said: "The number of food scares and product recalls has increased significantly in the past decade. Until now, however, there has been no international database to measure trends in food recalls.
"Our detailed analysis of recalls in the UK, Ireland and USA begins to fill that gap. It outlines how the frequency and severity of recalls has increased over the past ten years, accompanied by significant financial implications for food producers. The 2008 pork recall in Ireland, for example, cost the Irish economy an estimated 125 million.
"Of the product recalls we identified, 68 per cent were detected during routine or spot testing by regulatory bodies, and only 21 per cent were detected by the company in question. Around one fifth (21 per cent) were in the meat industry, 12 per cent in processed foods and 11 per cent in fruit and vegetables.
"Most recalls (56 per cent) resulted from operational mistakes, such as incorrect labelling, the presence of an undeclared ingredient, or contamination during the production process. While bi
|Contact: Anne-Marie Clarke|
Queen's University Belfast