U.S. PIRG Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization that claims to work to “protect consumers and promote good government,” has released its How Safe Is Our Food? report [pdf] in which it examines data for recalls occurring last year from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Enforcement Report and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) website. It concluded that recalls for meat and poultry had risen 65% since 2013.

While the number of meat, poultry, and egg product recalls in 2019 was flat from 2018, with 124 and 125 recalls, respectively, they remain at a seven-year high. Thanks to a nearly 12-million-pound recall of chicken strips due to the presence of metal fragments, the number of recalls in 2019 due to the presence of foreign materials also reached a seven-year high. The report discusses the Tyson chicken strip recall in an included case study.

The good news is that it also found that recalls for produce and processed food have fallen 34% since 2016. “This year’s analysis finds that recalls for processed food, produce, and other products classified as food have steadily declined since major protections mandated by FSMA [the Food Safety Modernization Act] started going into effect in 2016,” wrote the authors in the report. “While we cannot definitively connect the trend of decreasing recalls to the enactment of FSMA, the correlation is suggestive.”

However, the report highlights that the delay in implementing health-based standards for water used on produce most likely led to the massive 2019 recall of Romaine lettuce linked to foodborne illness outbreaks caused by E. coli. The FSMA rule covering science-based standards for water used to grow, harvest, and or clean fruits and vegetables should have gone into effect in 2018, but now is scheduled for rolling start dates in 2022.

“The food we eat should be free of contamination, from farm to fork,” said Dylan Robb, PIRG consumer watchdog associate, in a press release. “Food safety agencies can—and should—take several actions to make sure our food won’t make us sick, including banning Salmonella in meat, requiring testing for agricultural water, and implementing more aggressive food safety plans.”

U.S. PIRG report (pdf)

U.S. PIRG press release

More News right arrow

FDA provides temporary labeling flexibility for menus, packaged food

To facilitate the distribution of food during the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a guidance document to provide restaurants and food manufacturers with flexibility regarding nutrition labeling of certain packaged food.

U.S. restaurant industry hit hard by pandemic

The mandated restaurant dine-in closures that took effect across most of the United States beginning the week ending March 22 took a toll on U.S. restaurant transactions, reports The NPD Group.

USDA provides flexibility to shell egg industry to shift supply from foodservice to retail

The USDA is taking immediate action to assist the American egg industry in redistributing the current inventory of safe, high-quality table eggs from foodservice warehouses to retail distribution to support the surge in consumer demand for this staple food.

U.S. study finds diets remain poor for most children

Despite consuming fewer sugar-sweetened beverages and more whole grains, most American children and adolescents still eat poorly, according to a study published in JAMA.

Familiarity, acceptance for prebiotics, CBD and ashwagandha grow

“A Star is Born” is one of the Innova Market Insights top 10 trends for 2020, highlighting how the food industry continues to experiment with novel and unusual ingredients in order to move them into the mainstream.

IFT Weekly Newsletter

Rich in industry news and highlights, the Weekly Newsletter delivers the goods in to your inbox every Wednesday.

Subscribe for free