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FSANZ: Undeclared Allergens the Top Driver of Recalls

December 20, 2022

In the latest report released by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), undeclared allergens in foods were the cause of almost 50% of recalls issued in 2021. Report data indicated that there were a total of 80 recalls issued (down from 109 in 2020), and 48% were allergen-related. 

There are two types of recalls that may be issued: consumer and trade. A consumer recall applies to foods that are sold to the retail consumer. A trade recall covers foods sold to caterers or wholesalers. The root cause for these recalls was predominantly packaging errors, followed by supplier verification issues and lastly, accidental cross-contamination.

Additional causes for 2021 recalls included five related to the physical contamination, which is the presence of foreign objects like metal or plastic; and 19 due to microbial contamination. Multiple recalls associated with ham and pâté caused an increase in reports of Listeria monocytogenes. 

According to historical trend reporting, allergens were the leading cause of food recalls in the most recent decade reported, with 335 (43% of the total) reported. There have been an average of 78 recalls per year from 2012 to 2021, up from an average of 76 per year from 2011 to 2020. The most common allergen was milk, followed by multiple allergens and then peanuts. 

Here are some additional highlights from the historical data:

  • The second-leading driver of recalls from 2012 to 2021 was microbial contamination (i.e. listeria, salmonella and E.coli) causing 201 recalls
  • Physical contamination due to objects such as plastic and metal accounted for 92 recalls over the 10-year period
  • 38 recalls were because of biotoxins – the most common being paralytic shellfish toxin, a naturally-occurring marine biotoxin that can make people ill if the shellfish is consumed

FSANZ credits the reduction in recalls to increased consumer diligence and improved self-monitoring by food businesses, saying, “Continued advancements in food technology, analytical testing and traceability are also expected to influence the number of food recalls.” The complete statistics summary can be seen here

Food safety training is the best way to educate yourself and your staff on allergen safety, compliance and how to prevent allergy-related incidents. Find your course today.