Quarterly Index Reveals Poland as Top of the Pile as RASSF Turns 40

Quarterly Index Reveals Poland as Top of the Pile as RASSF Turns 40

Posted: by Stericycle on Aug 18, 2019

Each quarter our team here at Stericycle Expert Solutions take a closer look at where, when and why recalls are occurring across the continent. The latest instalment made from some interesting reading – but how does the RASFF system actually work?

Poland topped the pile for recalls in Q2, the first time it has been the lead country of origin since 2016.

A total of 88 recalls and notifications could be traced to the Eastern European nation, ahead of Turkey with 77, China with 49, France with 39 and Spain with 37.

The overall number of recalls, including food, feed and food contact materials – 986 – represents the fourth largest quarter in the history of the RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed), albeit a 5.3 per cent reduction on Q1 of this year.

As with the previous quarter, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany were the top food notifying countries, accounting for 29.3 per cent of the recalls and notifications.

For the sixth consecutive quarter, the most common type of food product recalled was nuts, nut products and seeds, with 187 recalls, down from 216 in Q1. This was followed by fruit and vegetables with 109 and poultry meat/poultry meat products with 104.

The top cause for food recalls was bacterial contamination (283) followed by chemicals (153) and aflatoxins (116). Bacterial contamination has now been the top cause of food recalls and notifications for 11 consecutive quarters.

The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed was put in place in 1979 to provide food and feed control authorities with an effective tool to exchange information about measures taken responding to serious risks detected in relation to food or feed. This exchange of information helps EU countries to act more rapidly and in a coordinated manner in response to a health threat. The system is updated 24/7 and alerts from EEA countries, Switzerland and non-member countries.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) feed into the process, providing scientific grounding and measures for recalling the produce.

In practice, once a notification is issued, a tracing process begins linking the issue or outbreak to find potential hotspots. Once the contaminated food is identified, the products are then traced to their origin. An alert quickly follows and the product is withdrawn from the market.

Not all food and drink related recalls are life threatening. There are a myriad of reasons why products are pulled from the market, including labelling problems, storage anomalies and provenance issues. However, with RASFF we have a guardian who never rests. With over 40 years’ experience in keeping us safe, we have a system that is both reliable and highly efficient.

It provides us at Stericycle Expert Solutions with a great deal of knowledge and helps us to our job better which is to manage food and drinks recalls for big brands across EMEA.