Food safety recalls were on different tracks during 2024’s first quarter

Memphis-based Sedgwick is out with a firehose of data about product recalls during the first quarter of 2024 with mixed results for food safety.

According to the Recall Index, overall, U.S. product recalls were up 8 percent during the first quarter of 2024 over the previous quarter. Sedgwick counted 909 recalls during the first period, the highest single quarter total over five years.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalls rose 27.6 percent over the previous quarter for 134 events during the first period of 2024. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recalls fell 31.6 percent to 13 during the first quarter of 2024.

Only three previous quarters during the past five years recorded more FDA events.   Of the current total, 51 FDA recalls were for undeclared allergens, making it the leading cause of food recalls. The weight of FSIS recalls did increase by 22.1 percent to 378,055 pounds for 2024’s first quarter.

Sedgwick reported that the FDA, USDA, and the Federal Trade Commission are working to keep consumers safe and provide them with accurate information about food being purchased.  “However, the new measures also illustrate how many entities are involved in food safety and the complexities the food industry faces,” the report states.  “Stakeholders must monitor regulatory activity and enforcement actions closely.”

Sedgwick also reports that “after  being finalized last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) final rule is now being enforced by the agency.” 

“The goal of the law is to improve organic control systems and farm-to-market traceability to address “organic fraud.” It applies to the National Organic Program (NOP) and puts in place regulations around the production, handling, and sale of agricultural products labeled as organic,” it said.

The comments also included these:

“Companies will closely follow how strictly the USDA will monitor producers and suppliers and when the first enforcement actions will be.”

“One area that is a focus of enforcement is lead contamination, especially in food products aimed at children. In response to an ongoing recall of applesauce found to contain extremely high lead levels, the FDA has increased testing and issued more voluntary recalls for cinnamon and cinnamon products. The theory is that criminal actors intentionally add lead to ground cinnamon to increase the weight, and thus the price.”

“Another issue affecting children is the ongoing 2022 infant formula crisis analysis. In March, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report exploring the market factors contributing to the supply disruptions that followed product recalls.”

The analysis highlights three key factors. First, only a few manufacturers have controlled the U.S. infant formula market for decades. 

“Second is how rebates are structured under the USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program that gives market exclusivity to companies that participate in the program. And third is the FDA’s extensive regulation of infant formula, which includes a 15-week preclinical study and long premarket submission periods, acting as a barrier to entry, according to the FTC.”

“The FDA is also tackling health risks believed to be linked to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In February, the agency announced that manufacturers’ voluntary phase-out of certain types of PFAS used to grease-proof food-packaging materials was complete. The FDA said these substances were no longer being sold in the U.S. for food packaging.”

About Sedgwick 

With 31,000 people in 80 countries, Sedgwick is a leading global provider of technology-enabled risk, benefits, and integrated business solutions. It provides a broad range of resources tailored to clients’ specific needs in casualty, property, marine, benefits, brand protection, and other areas.

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