Undeclared allergens main culprit of recalls
Of the 100 Australian food recalls in 2018, 46 were due to undeclared allergens, according to data from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
Using consumer complaints, distributor or retailer complaints, company and government testing and/or in-house testing, FSANZ has identified the key causes of allergen-related recalls. The four main categories of problems were: lack of skills and knowledge of labelling requirements; supplier verification issues; packaging errors; and accidental cross-contamination either of a raw ingredient or during final production process.
Packaging errors — which included using the wrong packaging and dairy-free claims instead of gluten-free claims on the front of packets — tended to be the leading cause of undeclared allergen recalls, accounting for 33% in 2016, 65% in 2017 and 54% in 2018. However, the data suggests the industry is well-educated, with a lack of skills and knowledge causing only 4% of recalls in 2018 and causing none in the previous two years.
Although 13 food business listed no corrective actions, the majority listed a number of actions which included training for staff, improved processes and procedures, and altered product labels.
FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth said the number of recalls increased from 69 in 2017 to 100 in 2018, with 46% due to undeclared allergens and 20% from microbial contamination.
“These results demonstrate that food businesses in Australia need to be across the mandatory allergen labelling requirements in the Food Standards Code,” Booth said. “Correct allergen labelling can mean the difference between life and death for people with food allergies, so it is vital that food businesses meet labelling requirements.”
He said FSANZ and enforcement agencies continue to communicate with food businesses to ensure they understand the importance of labelling requirements.
For more information on food recall allergen statistics from 2016–2018, click here.
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