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Fruit and vegetables send European border controls into overdrive

Producers and their supply chains are all aware of the global trend that is being driven by consumers around wellbeing. Those in the food and drink industry play a significant role in responding to it. Consumers have cultivated a deeper understanding around what they eat and the impact those foods have on their overall health, including exercise and their mental wellbeing.

A report by Mintel1 in early February examined consumers’ relationship with carbohydrates, fibre and starch. Nutrition rich foods like the potato are highly sought after as are many other fruits and vegetables which appear on Europe’s recall tables each week.

Nutritious foods have been gaining momentum following national public awareness campaigns to improve our diets for the sake of our health in years to come. Therefore, it is unsurprising that fruit and vegetables topped the recall tables in the first week of March 2021, accounting for 22 of the 97 notifications submitted in that week alone. Of the 22 notifications, half were detained by border controls.

Interestingly, only one of these consignments was recognised as having a bacterial contamination. The most common reason was the presence of an unauthorised substance with 14 notifications – namely different variants of insecticides.

As reported in our recent State of the Nation Recall Index report, 2021 is the international year of fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, this category represented the second most recalled foodstuff in 2020, with more than 500 instances across the year. That led us to a discussion around the increase in food hygiene practises and the likelihood of a further sharp decline in foodborne illness. It was refreshing to see that bacterial contamination across Europe was uncommon in the first week of March 2021 and we believe this will be a recurring trend as we move through the rest of the year.

A report on food hygiene from the National Food Institute of Denmark is on the horizon. We'll wait to see whether our hypothesis regarding a decline of foodborne illness has been realised. This will correlate with a decline in food recalls which relate to bacterial contamination.

While European recalls for bacterial contamination appear to be declining, there remains a multitude of reasons to recall food, feed and drinks. RASFF — the European Commission rapid alert system for food and feed safety alerts — provides an overview of what is being recalled, however it is the responsibility of those operating in the supply chain to conduct the recalls safely and quickly.

To learn more about the rise and fall of recall trends and to acquire knowledge about how to plan for one, download our 2021 State of the Nation Recall Index report.

Sources:

[1] https://reports.mintel.com/trends/#/observation/1064091?fromSearch=%3Ffilters.category%3D48%26filters.region%3D2%26filters.strategic-topic%3D66%26last_filter%3Dstrategic-topic

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