Recalls of chicken and other poultry meats are at their highest level since 2002, according to a new report.
The Recall and Notification Index for the second quarter of 2017, produced by recall specialist firm Stericycle, recorded 223 recalls of poultry products across the EU. It also noted that as many as nine out of 10 could contain dangerous bacteria.
A major factor behind the high level of recalls is the recent curtailing by the EU of meat imports from Brazil, said the report.
The EU and some other trading partners temporarily banned poultry exports from the country after meat exporters allegedly bribed inspectors to let them ship rotten meat and meat with traces of salmonella.
Suspected bacterial contamination, especially of salmonella, was behind more than 93% of the withdrawals.
The high levels of poultry recalls meant overall food recalls have reached the third highest total since 1999.
Non-EU countries were the exporters of 66.5% of the food recalls, with Brazil being the major exporter. Other countries whose produce was responsible for large numbers of recalls included India, Turkey, China and Spain.
Farzad Henareh, European vice president at Stericycle, said: “The ongoing investigation of food inspection practices in Brazil continues to have a serious knock-on effect for EU imports. However, recalls relating to food originating from other countries indicates that the industry still needs to employ the most rigorous approach to food safety, and the risks remain high.
“Adherence to the strict regulatory standards in the EU is an absolute must.”
The index follows a recent report from the House of Lords warning of the danger that Brexit could lead to a slip in the UK’s high animal welfare standards as it sought new trading deals. It highlighted the possibility that as part of a trade deal with the US, Britain would be forced to import “chlorine-washed chicken”.
SM reported in July that the EU committee for the House of Lords said US chicken was often washed in chlorine because of low animal hygiene standards on farms.
Motor and consumer recalls
Meanwhile recalls in the motor vehicle sector dropped by 16% in the second quarter of 2017.
Among consumer products, toys topped recall tables with 43.7% of withdrawals, up from 38.2% on the previous quarter. Chemical issues and choking were the primary reasons, with most unsafe products originating in China, the world’s largest exporter of toys.