Product recalls in Australia hit record levels

A record number of product recalls and safety food incidents were recorded in Australia in FY19, according to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) annual report.

In the 12 months to June 2019, the organisation noted 106 food incidents and product recalls, which were largely due to undeclared allergens and food contamination.

FSANZ said that allergen recalls are often due to poor info on labels; supplier verification; mistakes on packaging and accidental cross-contamination.

The number of recalls have been rising in recent years, with 81 recalls recorded in the previous financial year, and 61 reported in 2016-2017.

Customers are filing complaints, making it easier for FSANZ to monitor the products that they need to be pulled from supermarkets. The reports are then followed by product testing by the company and the Government does its own testing.

While many of these reported recalls are due to undeclared allergens some have have been due to deliberately placed health hazards such as the strawberry needle contamination scandal.

“Of these, the strawberry tampering incident was one of the most significant events of the year. Due to the criminal nature of the incident the response was led by Queensland Police and the Queensland Department of Health,” said Robyn Kruk AO chair – FSANZ board.

In 2018-2019, listeria and salmonella stood out as the other major contaminants, affecting frozen vegetables and eggs.

FSANZ reported 14 incidents to states and territories last financial year, including border rejections and unauthorized substances, undeclared allergen detections and bio toxin, chemical and microbial contamination.

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