Allergen-related issues persist in Australian product recalls

Recent data released by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) indicates that allergens were the cause of nearly half of all food recalls in Australia in 2022.    

FSANZ collaborates with state enforcement agencies and businesses to coordinate national food recalls, aiming to remove unsafe products from the market. Publishing annual data assists in pinpointing trends and addressing issues to prevent future incidents.    

Out of 75 recalls in 2022, 29 were attributed to allergens. Microbial contamination and foreign matter were other prevalent factors. 
Although the total number of recalls slightly decreased from last year, the number of recalls due to undeclared allergens notably dropped. Recalls due to bacteria stayed about the same while recalls due to chemicals and foreign materials doubled.    

FSANZ did not specify which allergens prompted recalls in 2022, but from 2013 to 2022, milk, multiple allergens, and peanuts were the most frequent culprits. Mixed and/or processed foods were the primary food types associated with allergen-related recalls, encompassing snack foods, custard powders, and frozen meals.  
Regarding microbial contamination from 2013 to 2022, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and E. coli were the top pathogens.  
The most common foreign materials were plastic, metal, and glass, while chemical contaminants were primarily classified as "other," including ethylene oxide, pesticide residues, and cleaning or sanitizing agents.    

Most recalls are precautionary measures initiated by businesses to remove potentially unsafe food from the market. Nonetheless, some recalls happen in response to illnesses or injuries. Recalls can be categorized into consumer recalls (for retail products) and trade recalls (for wholesale and catering products).
Allergen recalls typically result from consumer complaints or routine company testing. Supplier verification issues, including raw ingredients containing allergens without proper disclosure to manufacturers, were the most common causes. Packaging problems, like incorrect packaging or ingredient lists, also contributed to recalls.      



Food Standards Australia New Zealand