Each week we take stock of European recall notifications to understand the cause and effect across industries. This week we investigated results on RASFF - Europe’s rapid alert system for food and feed safety and found some interesting results.
As of 19 June, there were 58 recall notifications from countries including Belgium, Denmark, UK, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Cyprus, Spain, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Bulgaria, Norway, Netherlands, France, Latvia and Poland.
A total of 33 consignments were deemed a serious risk to consumers for reasons including mislabelling, unauthorised substances and salmonella contamination. In one case, fragments of glass were found in frozen raspberries imported to Norway from Siberia.
Interestingly, the fruits and vegetables product category had the highest volume of serious recalls with a total of nine. Both meat products and nut products had four apiece.
Confectionary, dietetic foods, other food products and poultry had two each and cereals (and bakery products), cocoa preparations, pet food, eggs, herbs and spices, iced desserts, milk products and prepared dishes and snacks had one notification respectively.
All but one (the Siberian raspberries) were recalled because they tested positive for a contaminant or undeclared pesticide. It is important to note that fruit and vegetables feature often on the rapid alert system because they go through several processes on their journey from farm to plate.
Peppers imported from Turkey were notified on four separate occasions because they included a combination of pesticides which exceeded the EU’s regulatory guidelines for food products.
Some pesticides have been known to cause short-term adverse human health effects, and in some cases chronic adverse effects can occur months or years after exposure, according to pesticideforum.org.
The use of pesticides varies from country to country however, looking at Europe in isolation, countries including Spain, France, Italy and Germany are the biggest consumers of pesticides in the European Union. It is argued that the chemicals are needed to boost production on farms, ensure they run efficiently and remain sustainable.
With strict regulations in place, European countries adhere to the guidelines for the safety of consumers and those who operate in the agricultural sector and consumers should take comfort in the fact that when there is a breach, it is usually caught at border control, so the chances of them ever encountering an over-treated product are very slim.
Thanks to the rapid alert system and in-country protocols, the peppers and raspberries in question will never see a European dinner table.
Our team handles millions of recalls every year for global suppliers because recalls are inevitable. No process is perfect but recalls can and should be planned for.