Food Safety

Government Shutdown Drives Down Recalls

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

May 14, 2019

Food recalls dropped sharply in the U.S. in the first quarter of this year, but it’s nothing to celebrate, according to a survey by Stericycle Expert Solutions.

FDA recalls totaled 99, a drop of 36.5% over the previous quarter, and USDA recalls of meat and seafood stood at 39, a drop of 7.1%. By weight, USDA recalls stood at 1.4 million pounds, a decrease of 91.6%

The drop in recalls was attributable almost entirely to the 35-day federal government shutdown, the longest in history, which ended on Jan. 25, says Chris Harvey, director of recall solutions at Stericycle Expert Solutions.

“While it’s usually good news for consumers when recall rates decline, the Q1 2019 numbers are misleading,” Harvey wrote in a blog post on Stericycle’s website. “Fewer inspections mean more potentially dangerous products entered the market unnoticed during this period, which could also have an impact in the months ahead. Having a recall plan in place could never be more important as we track the repercussions.” Stericycle noted the same effect on recalls for other products, including cars, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.