Allergy alert as recall rates rise
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has today released data on Australian food recalls in 2018, including new information on the causes of allergen labelling-related recalls.
The FSANZ findings are of interest to early childhood education and care (ECEC) services who supply food to children whilst in care, with the warning also being pertinent for services where parents and caregivers provide food, given the research and warnings about allergen information being confusing for parents and caregivers
Mark Booth, CEO of FSANZ, said recalls were up in 2018, moving to 100 recalls compared with 69 recalls in 2017.
46 per cent of the affected products were recalled due to undeclared allergens present within products – meaning that, on 46 per cent of occasions where an allergic reaction occurred, it was due to an allergen which was not listed, or was improperly listed, on the product consumed – highlighting the importance of not only reading labels carefully, but being aware of introducing any new food product to a child with a history of allergic reactions.
20 per cent of products were recalled due to microbial contamination, as was the case in March 2018, where five deaths occured as the result of consuming contaminated rockmelon, or the more recent case of certain eggs being recalled due to the presence of salmonella.
“These results demonstrate that businesses in Australia who serve or sell food need to be across the mandatory allergen labelling requirements in the Food Standards Code,” Mr Booth said.
FSANZ has identified four key causes of allergen-related recalls, including lack of skills and knowledge of labelling requirements, supplier verification, packaging errors and accidental cross contamination.
Highlighting the critical importance of allergy awareness when dealing with children, Mr Booth said that correct allergen labelling “can mean the difference between life and death. It is vital that food businesses meet labelling requirements”
FSANZ, along with other enforcement agencies, will continue to communicate with food businesses to ensure they understand labelling requirements and their importance, Mr Booth said.