Food Recalls - Global Food Safety Resource (2023)

Food recalls are a series of corrective actions that remove potentially unsafe food products from the distribution channel, store shelves and consumers’ kitchens. As food science continues to ensure overall food quality, and food safety detection technologies continue to advance at a rapid pace, daily alerts of food recalls are becoming common in many countries.

Food Recalls - Global Food Safety Resource (1)Food Recalls and the Regulation Dilemma

When it comes to food recalls, food safety standards and regulations are usually non-prescriptive and define “what” needs to occur in the event of a recall.

But the dilemma facing industry is the “how to”. To this end, industry commissioned the global not-for-profit supply chainstandards association, GS1, to create the first industry recall standards for food that would lend efficiency, accuracy and transparency to the recall process.

The standardtook close to four years to develop and was based on industry inputs from over 30 countries. It was ratified in 2012. An accompanying implementation guide walks companies through the specific steps and actions to be taken during a national or international product recall.

Health and Financial Risks of Food Recalls

It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) that on a yearly basis one in six Americans – which adds up to approximately 48 million people – will be directly affected by foodborne diseases. Out of these 48 million, 150,000 will need hospitalization, and 3,000 will die.

(Video) Food Recall Management

Apart from the obvious health impacts, the economic consequences of food recalls are alarming. According to a study published by the GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association – Capturing Recall Costs: Measuring and Recovering the Losses) 77% of respondents from companies that had faced a food recall between 2005 and 2010 reported that the estimated financial impact was up to $30 million. And 23% reported even higher costs.

The significant costs from food recalls are made up of direct recall costs, the costs of discarded goods, direct sales losses, and also expenditures created by business interruption, customer reimbursement, sanitizing facilities and investigation.

A financial consequence that is harder to measure is the loss of future sales due to the damage of the reputation of the brand. It can take years for consumers to regain confidence in a product after the major health scare of food recalls.

Food Recall Categories

Food recalls are usually classified according to the potential damage they can cause. Both the FDA and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) use the same classifications:

  • “Class I” Food Recalls: a situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, a violate product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death. Examples of this highest alert status are: microbial contamination by harmful strains of bacteria such as listeria, salmonella and E. coli and undeclared allergens.
  • “Class II” Food Recalls:a situation where the use of, or exposure to, a violative product may cause temporary adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote. Examples for a class II alert are: botulinum and Norovirus contamination
  • “Class III” Food Recalls:a situation where the use of, or exposure to, a violate product is not likely to cause any adverse health consequences. Recalls of this type consist of incorrect weight, volume or origin, as well as labeling issues or foods that contain yeast or mold contaminations.

Triggers for Food Recalls

Most food recalls are initiated by food manufacturers or food distributors after establishing that an incident has occurred. In a 1998 US study of food manufacturers, it took an average of 18 days to “sense and act” after an incident was reported before a food recall was launched. Once launched, it took an average of 42 days to complete the food recall.

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After this elapsed 60 days, only 43% of products in class 1 recalls were traced. This study was one of the key drivers for US industry to engage with GS1 to create the first industry standard and a common industry language to increase the effectiveness of food product recalls.

Food recalls may be triggered by an illness outbreak, where a link can be determined between illnesses and certain foods. It is important for health care providers to be vigilant and report incidents to government agencies as soon as possible to ensure food safety.

As government agencies conduct regular inspections at food processing, manufacturing and distribution facilities, they may discover a potential food safety hazard. Regular food testing by industry and government agencies is imperative in keeping the food supply chain safe.

Consumers play an increasingly active role in the food safety process. Posts on social media can spread information very quickly.

Often a consumer complaint can lead to an investigation and possible food recalls. Herein lies a weakness of social media: “social rumor” about a product, or a brand name without specific reference to the globally unique identifier on every product (Global Trade Item Number from the bar code) can lead to the incorrect food product being removed from the supply chain. This can have severe consequences for supply and demand, and also impacts food security as food recalls target and destroy perfectly safe food.

The Process for Food Recalls

Food recalls almost always occur on a voluntary basis, but several governments have revised legislation to give them powers to force a recall.

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Because of the high risks posed by unsafe food, the sooner a threat is contained the less damage will be done, from health, safety and financial points of view.

Most countries around the world have implemented their own processesto follow in case of food safety threats. However, harmonization and transparency are elusive and food recalled in one economy may end up being dumped in a neighboring economy by unscrupulous food supply chain actors.

In general the government agencies’ role is to inform the public, oversee implementation of the food recall and verify that industry has removed recalled products from store shelves. What is lacking on a global level is consistency, the ethical and sustainable removal of the contaminated food product, and destruction of the recalled products.

E. Coli Doesn’t Stop at the Border

As the global food chain becomes more complex and international trade is increasing, it has become vital for economies to coordinate their food recalls in order to mitigate the risk of a global threat to human health and safety.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published guidelines for improving and developing national food recall systems.

Part of international collaboration is the creation of The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), a joint initiative between WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO).

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The INFOSAN network has over 180 participating economies and promotes the rapid exchange of information between regulatory bodies in food safety related cases. The prompt response is assured by using designated emergency contact points, which allows for clear communication, without any loss of time. Unfortunately, many economies are in “listening mode” and do not actively participate in INFOSAN. This could be for many reasons including lack of resources, immaturity of their national food safety enforcement systems or because a food safety recall could negatively effect their economic output. Nevertheless, the WHO’s national recall guideline document combined with INFOSAN and the GS1 business to business product recall standard and implementation guide are powerful tools when used together.


Additional information on Food Recalls:

  • Overview of Major Food Recall Portals in the Public and Private Sectors

  • FAO/WHO Guide for Developing and Improving National Food Recall Systems

  • Product Recall Standards for Food: GS1 and ISO 10393 Overview

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What food is being recalled right now 2022? ›

Filter by
DateBrand Name(s)Product Description
11/03/2022KaleraFresh Lettuce Products
11/03/2022NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE®Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
11/01/2022Cedar Creek PopcornOld-Fashioned Caramel Holiday Popcorn Box
10/28/2022DaisoTiramisu Twist Cookies
6 more rows

What are 4 guidelines for recalled food? ›

If you're concerned about a specific food product recall, take these 4 steps:
  • Determine if you have the recalled food product in your home. Food recalls are very precise. ...
  • Identify the reason for the recall. Food products are recalled for many reasons. ...
  • Return the recalled food product. ...
  • Clean your kitchen.
28 Feb 2019

What are 3 reasons a food might be recalled? ›

Most common reasons for a food recall
  • Foods are contaminated with a foodborne pathogens such as E. coli or Salmonella.
  • Foods contain an undeclared food allergen. ...
  • Foods contains physical contaminants such as plastic, glass or metal fragments.

What is the number 1 reason food is recalled globally? ›

Allergens, followed by expiry dates and foreign language issues were the major labelling causes for food recalls across Europe over more than five years, according to Steve Spice, regulatory manager at Ashbury.

Why are so many foods being recalled 2022? ›

Over three-quarters of Whole Foods' 37 recalled food products were the result of undeclared allergens. Other leading causes of food recalls in 2022 are potential lead contamination and potential presence of foreign materials. Seven food products—all fruit—were recalled for potential lead contamination in 2022.

What is the most recalled food? ›

Baked goods are most commonly recalled for undeclared allergens that end up harming the unwary consumer with food allergies. Recalls commonly stem from labeling issues and the undeclared allergens that are usually found in baked goods are nuts, eggs, soy, wheat, and dairy.

What are the 3 types of recalls? ›

While both the FDA and USDA have their own definitions of product recall classes, they follow the same general rule – 1= most serious / dangerous, 2= potentially dangerous and 3 = least dangerous.

How do you handle food recalls? ›

Typically, the instructions will indicate that you need to do one of the following: Return the product to the store where you bought it for a refund. Dispose of the product properly so that other people or animals cannot eat it. (This is particularly important if you opened the product.)

Who is responsible for food recalls? ›

Food recalls are usually voluntarily initiated by the manufacturer or distributor of the food. In some situations, the FDA may request or mandate a recall. There are instances where the violation can be corrected and the food returned to the marketplace.

What is the importance of a recall? ›

For consumers, product recalls are very important because unsafe products that can harm or kill them are pulled from the market. In a recall, manufacturers seek not only to remove the potential harm but also to lower the risk of injury or harm associated with a defective product.

What is recall short answer? ›

Verb. remember, recollect, recall, remind, reminisce mean to bring an image or idea from the past into the mind.

What is the goal of a food recall? ›

A food recall is a voluntary action by a manufacturer or distributor to protect the public from products that may cause health problems or possible death. A recall is intended to remove food products from commerce when there is reason to believe the products may be adulterated or misbranded.

What is the largest recall in the world? ›

Tylenol, 1982

Arguably the most definitive product recall of all time, the Tylenol incident of 1982 started when seven people in the Chicago area died between September and October of that year.

What is the greatest source of food contamination? ›

Summary. Food products are rich in nutrients required by microorganisms and may become contaminated. Major contamination sources are water, air, dust, equipment, sewage, insects, rodents, and employees.

Which is the most serious recall? ›

A Class I recall is the most urgent and serious of the three types of FDA recalls. Class I recalls usually pertain to defective products that can cause serious health problems or death.

Which product recalls is the most serious? ›

1. Extra-Strength Tylenol - 1982. Between September and October 1982, seven people in the greater Chicago area died after consuming cyanide-laced Extra-Strength Tylenol. Parent company Johnson & Johnson spent upwards of $100 million recalling 31 million bottles of the painkiller and relaunching the Tylenol brand.

Are food recalls effective? ›

Unless technology improves the speed at which outbreaks are traced to a food source, “You're always going to have this baseline majority of cases before the recall is initiated,” he said. Recalls are also very rarely 100-percent effective at removing a recalled product from the marketplace, Brackett said.

What is a recall unsafe food? ›

A recall is when unsafe food is removed from the supply chain and consumers are advised to take appropriate action, for example to return or dispose of the unsafe food.

What is recall give an example? ›

recall, in psychology, the act of retrieving information or events from the past while lacking a specific cue to help in retrieving the information. A person employs recall, for example, when reminiscing about a vacation or reciting a poem after hearing its title.

What is the most common type of recall? ›

Class II: The most common type of recall, used when a drug might cause temporary or less serious health consequences. Class III: Used for prescription and over-the-counter medicines that do not meet FDA labeling or manufacturing standards but are deemed unlikely to cause adverse health consequences.

What is recall an example of? ›

To recall is defined as to bring, call back or remember. An example of to recall is someone having a memory of their first kiss. To request return of (a product) to the manufacturer, as for necessary repairs or adjustments.

How do you prevent a product recall? ›

How Can a Recall Be Avoided? The most effective way to avoid a product recall is to monitor your manufacturing processes and inspect your products to ensure their continued compliance with your specifications. It is not enough to only perform an initial quality assurance test on the first batch.

What happens after a food recall? ›

If the company does not stop distributing the problematic food or does not conduct a voluntary recall after receiving notice from FDA, then FDA may order the company to stop distributing the food and order the company to notify others (such as distributors, processors, or grocers) to stop distributing the food.

What factors affect recall? ›

Factors that affect recall
  • Attention. The effect of attention on memory recall has surprising results. ...
  • Motivation. Motivation is a factor that encourages a person to perform and succeed at the task at hand. ...
  • Interference. ...
  • Context. ...
  • State-dependent memory. ...
  • Gender. ...
  • Food consumption. ...
  • Physical activity.

What is a recall problem? ›

A recall is issued when a manufacturer or NHTSA determines that a vehicle, equipment, car seat, or tire creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards.

What are recall questions examples? ›

Recall Questions
  • Where does the story take place?
  • When did the story take place?
  • What did s/he/it look like?
  • Who was s/he/it?
  • Where did s/he/it live?
  • Who are the characters in the book?
  • Where in the book would you find…?

What is simple recall type? ›

1. Simple Recall Type Test Items: The simple-recall test is here somewhat arbitrarily defined as one in which each item appears as a direct question, a stimulus word or phrase, or a specific direction.

What was the first food recall? ›

The first major national food recall occurred in 1920, with an outbreak of botulism linked to improperly canned olives. At its peak in 2016, the total number of food recalls in the United States reached 905.

What are the types of food recalls? ›

Types of food recalls

Food recalls can be at the trade or consumer level. A consumer recall is the most extensive type, recovering the food from all points in the production and distribution chain, including from consumers. A trade recall recovers food that has not been sold directly to consumers.

How many food recalls are there? ›


There were a total of 270 food and beverage recalls reported by the FDA and USDA in 2021.

How can you prevent contamination? ›

Keep it clean:

Wash hands with soap and hot water before and after handling food, and after using the bathroom, changing diapers; or handling pets. Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills. Wash cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

How can we prevent contamination of high risk foods? ›

Preparing food hygienically
  1. use different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food.
  2. wash utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food thoroughly between tasks.
  3. make sure you do not wash raw meat.
  4. wash your hands after touching raw food and before you handle ready-to-eat food.

What are 5 ways to prevent food contamination? ›

Here's her advice.
  1. Wash Your Hands Often. ...
  2. Clean Fruits And Vegetables. ...
  3. Don't Wash Raw Meat. ...
  4. Clean All Surfaces. ...
  5. Keep It Cool. ...
  6. Avoid The “Danger Zone” ...
  7. Separate, So You Don't Cross-Contaminate. ...
  8. Cook To The Right Temperature.

› ... › Company Profiles ›

Key Takeaways · Hallmark/Westland went bankrupt following an investigation into animal cruelty that led to a massive recall of more than 143 million poun...
Our goal is to share insights about the key issues facing security and supply chain practitioners in food, beverage and other ingestible product industries. Her...

Food Recall - an overview › topics › food-science › f... › topics › food-science › f...
The social and economic impacts of outbreaks of foodborne illness and food recalls have become important food safety concerns. These outbreaks are usually due t...

What is the new food recall? ›

Ford Recalls 2022 Maverick over Brake Light

Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling certain 2022 Maverick vehicles. Under certain circumstances, the Antilock Brake System (ABS) module may cause the brake lights to illuminate without the driver applying the brakes.

Is there a chicken recall 2022? ›

Foster Farms recalls chicken patties from Costco after consumer complaints. Foster Farms of Farmerville, LA, is recalling 148,000 pounds of fully cooked frozen chicken breast patties that may be contaminated with hard clear pieces of plastic.

What cereal is on recall 2022? ›

America's favorite marshmallow cereal has come under fire in the first few weeks of April 2022 for allegedly making people ill after the consumption of just one bowl. The FDA is currently in the investigative stages of the recall process.

What cheese has been recalled 2022? ›

Public Health Actions. On October 28, 2022, Old Europe Cheese, Inc. added a list of stores that received recalled bulk brie and camembert cheese that may be repacked and sold under other brand names. CDC is advising people not to eat, sell, or serve recalled cheese.

What are examples of recalls? ›

10 biggest U.S. product recalls of all time
  • #1 Takata Air Bag Recall. 2008 — $24 billion and counting. ...
  • #2 Volkswagen's Diesel Engine Recall. ...
  • #3 Merck's Vioxx Recall. ...
  • #4 Firestone Tires and Ford. ...
  • #5 Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 Recall. ...
  • #6 General Motors' Ignition Switch Recall. ...
  • #7 Pfizer's Bextra Recall. ...
  • #8 Toyota's Floor Mat Recall.
22 Oct 2020

What recalled food means? ›

A food recall occurs when a company removes a food product from the market because of the possibility that the food may be contaminated or mislabeled.

Which type of recall is the most serious? ›

Class I Recalls by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are the most severe type of FDA recall. In a Class-I recall there is a potential for serious injury or death.

Is chicken safe to eat right now? ›

It is safe to eat properly handled and cooked poultry in the United States.

Is hamburger meat still on recall? ›

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the recall at this time. The beef was produced between February 1, 2022 and April 8, 2022 and was shipped to local retailers nationwide. Products may still be in consumers' homes; any packaging marked with the codes related to the recall should be thrown away.

Are onions still on recall 2022? ›

November 15, 2022 - Potandon Produce L.L.C. recalled onions supplied from Keeler Family Farms and sold as Green Giant Fresh to include 3lb. and 5lb. bags of whole yellow onions and 2 lb.

What milk is on recall 2022? ›

The Similac PM 60/40 recall is in addition to other lots of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare powdered formula that were recalled on February 17, 2022.

What oatmeal has been recalled? ›

Oatly oat milk recalled for possible cronobacter contamination.

Are Cheerios being recalled 2022? ›

No recalls for Lucky Charms or Cheerios have been issued, but Banaszek says her family isn't taking any chances eating the cereals again. "We don't want this to happen again.

Is Philadelphia cream cheese recalled? ›

The Defense Department's Hazardous Food and Nonprescription Drug Recall System has announced a recall of Philadelphia Cream Cheese due to possible tampering, according to a DOD All Food and Drug Activity message sent Oct. 6. Some of the cream cheese products have been found to have holes poked in the product packaging.

What is the oldest cheese that is edible? ›

The oldest (edible) cheese in the world was a 40-year old cheddar from Wisconsin made by cheesemaker Ed Zahn. Apparently, the sharpness could only be consumed in small doses. This cheese was made while Nixon was President and it was sold in one-ounce pieces. That is some old milk!

Is the bacteria in cheese still alive? ›

Lactic Acid Bacteria

Although many of these bacteria die off after the initial step of cheesemaking, there are varieties that survive and continue to contribute to cheese flavor in many cheeses, especially alpine (Emmental, Gruyere, etc) and Italian hard (Grana Padana, Pecorino Romano, etc) cheeses.


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2. Food Safety - How to Handle a Recall
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3. Industry advice – How to be prepared for better product recalls – Food and Grocery
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4. What is a food safety culture?
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5. Industry advice - How to conduct better product recalls - Food and Grocery
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6. GFSI Webinar: World Food Safety DayDeep Dive on Food Safety and the UN SDGs: What They Mean for GFSI
(GFSI | Global Food Safety Initiative)
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