No longer a ‘poultry’ matter: recalls of UK’s favourite meat at their highest since 2002

– Highest number of poultry recalls in over a decade says Stericycle Q2 2017 Recall Index
– Unprecedented rise in food and beverage recalls: third highest total since 1999
London, UK – 08 August 2017
Recalls of chicken and other poultry meats are at their highest level since 2002 according to a report from Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS, just as it was revealed that chicken has overtaken red meat as the most popular meat in Britain¹.
With traditional ‘meat and two veg’ meals, based on red meat, falling out of fashion and more people dining alone², 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% 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% on the previous quarter.
The Stericycle report indicates that 66.5% 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 for 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.”
Vehicle owners pile pressure on auto manufacturers
In the automotive sector, which has been plagued by rising numbers of motor vehicle recalls for many quarters, there was a notable drop of 16% in Q2 2017. Air bag issues remained the primary cause for withdrawals during the quarter, but despite overseas press reports indicating that defective air bags are being replaced with faulty substitutes³, none of the reported 14 recalls were related to the matter and there has been no evidence of this in the UK or Europe.
Risk of injuries accounted for 82.5% of automotive recalls meaning that the issue had the potential to cause injury.
The recall study also revealed that lorries and buses accounted for one fifth (19.4%) of all automotive recalls.
Toys and batteries behind consumer woes
Among consumer products, toys topped recall tables with 43.7% of withdrawals, up from 38.2% on the previous quarter. Chemical issues and choking were the primary reasons, with most unsafe products originating in China, the world’s largest exporter of toys.
Clothing recalls increased to 51, whilst electrical appliances and equipment recalls numbered 33.
“Despite increasingly strict regulations and efforts made to safeguard against potentially harmful products, every industry will encounter problems,” continued Henareh. “Manufacturers have had to deal with numerous intensive challenges over the last quarter, with recalls increasingly becoming part of doing business. Our Q2 Recall Index clearly shows it makes business sense to maintain risk assessments and seek out stable recall programmes in order to ensure consumer safety and avoid business disruption.”

The Stericycle European Recall and Notification Index is based on data from the EU’s RAPEX and RASFF rapid alert systems. For access to the full Q2 2017 Index, please download the report: