Product Recall Update: Food Safety Trends During the Second Quarter of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Product Recall Update: Food Safety Trends During the Second Quarter of the COVID-19 Pandemic
David Fiske

Senior Vice President, Branch Manager

Lori Hunter

Executive Vice President

October 2, 2020

Stericycle’s most recent Recall Index Report shows how the pandemic has impacted food safety, including risks that are at the top of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDAs) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDAs) priority lists, and how the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint will impact the recall process.

According to the Recall Index Report, activity in the second quarter of this year was intensified by food safety and public health advocates who pressured companies and regulators for more safeguards. As a result, food safety issues made the headlines that fueled consumer fears regarding recalls, foodborne illness outbreaks and limited inspections of food production facilities. The following are key findings from the report:

  • The number of FDA-related recalls totaled 7.8 million units in 79 events — 44% and 11.5% drops, respectively, from Q1. According to the report, this decline in events can be attributed to the agency’s limited regulation oversight activities over the past four months.
  • The USDA reported nine recall events, affecting 672,000 pounds of food, for a quarterly increase of 2,882%. At the top of the list and accounting for 44.4% of events and 73.9% of recalled product weight were poultry products.
  • Undeclared allergens remained at the top of FDA food recalls for the 12th consecutive quarter, accounting for 43% of recalls. Mold was the cause for 86.6% of recalled units.
  • Produce remains a top recall product. The number of recall events related to produce was 19%, with prepared food unit recalls coming in at 88.1%.
  • Bacteria contamination accounted for 13 recalls, compared to 36 in Q1. In both quarters, listeria was the most common contaminant behind the recall events.

According to the USDA, July saw a slight increase in recalls, mainly due to fewer inspections being conducted during the height of the pandemic. As a result, this could leave room for gaps in regulatory oversight and concerns regarding missed food safety issues. You can read more on these and other food recall findings in the Stericycle report.

We understand that you and your clients may have questions regarding food safety and food recalls during the COVID-19 pandemic. At Worldwide Facilities, we are committed to staying informed and providing the resources that our retail brokers need during this challenging time.

To learn more about our products and services or for coverage questions, please contact David Fiske at 312-465-5305 or or Lori Hunter at 213-236-4585 or

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