Why do we collect food recall data?
We collect data on Australian food recalls to identify trends and common issues in the food industry and help find ways to prevent future incidents.
An analysis of annual food recall statistics for the last 10 years is below. For statistics on allergen-related recalls see Undeclared allergen food recall statistics. Our statistics are updated annually.
Food recall statistics (1 January 2013 – 31 December 2022)
Between 2013 and 2022, FSANZ coordinated 791 recalls including 75 recalls in 2022 (Figure 1). The 10 year average slightly increased from 78 recalls per year (2012-2021) to 79 recalls per year (2013-2022).
The volume of food recalled represents a very small proportion of the large amount of food products available in the Australian market. Most recalls are precautionary and initiated by food businesses to ensure that potentially unsafe food is removed from distribution and sale. Only a small amount of recalls are linked to a suspected or confirmed illness/injury.
An overall increase in the number of food recalls indicates that the system works to safeguard the food supply. Over time broader regulatory oversight, improved self-monitoring by food businesses and greater consumer vigilance have helped to strengthen problem detection. Continued advancements in food technology, analytical testing and traceability are also expected to influence the number of food recalls.
Figure 3: Food recalls by recall level 2013-2022
There are two types of food recall – consumer and trade. A trade recall is conducted when the food has not been available for direct purchase by the public, such as food sold to wholesalers and caterers. A consumer recall is conducted when the food has been available for retail sale.
Between 2013 and 2022, consumer recalls accounted for 87% of all food recalls and trade recalls 13% (see Figure 3).
Table 1: Food recalls by year and classification 2013-2022
Between 2013 and 2022 most of the recalls were due to undeclared allergens (44%) and microbiological contamination (25%) as shown in Table 1. Both Microbiological contamination and undeclared allergens have shown an overall increasing trend .
Undeclared allergen food recalls
Between 2013 and 2022 there were 346 food recalls due to undeclared allergens. The most common undeclared allergens were milk (105 recalls; 30%), multiple allergens (61 recalls; 18%) and peanut (51 recalls; 15%) as shown in Figure 5.
In 2016, FSANZ introduced additional post recall report questions to collect information on the root cause, problem detection and corrective action for undeclared allergen recalls. For more information please visit our Undeclared allergen food recall statistics page.
Between 2013 and 2022 the most common food type associated with food recalls due to undeclared allergens was mixed and/or processed food (104 recalls; 30%) as shown in Figure 6. Mixed and or/processed foods include snack foods, custard powders and frozen meals. The second most common food to be recalled due to undeclared allergens was confectionery (50 recalls; 14%) followed by breads and bakery products (47 recalls; 14%).
Microbial contamination food recalls
Between 2013 and 2022 there were 194 food recalls due to microbial contamination (see Table 1). As shown in Figure 7, the most common microbes were Listeria monocytogenes (70 recalls; 36%), Salmonella (44 recalls; 23%) and Escherichia coli (E.coli) (38 recalls; 20%).
Foreign matter food recalls
Between 2013 and 2022 there were 92 recalls due to foreign matter (see Table 1). As shown in Figure 8, the most common types of foreign matter were plastic (30 recalls; 33%), metal (27 recalls; 29%) and glass (19 recalls 21%).
Biotoxin food recalls
Between 2013 and 2022 there were 38 recalls due to Biotoxins (see Table 1). As shown in Figure 9., the most common type of Biotoxins were Paralytic Shellfish Toxin (24 recalls; 63%).
Chemical/contaminant food recalls
Between 2013 and 2023 there were 30 recalls for chemical and other contaminants (see Table 1). The most common contaminants were ‘other’ contaminants (22 recalls; 72%) and cleaning/sanitising agent (4 recalls; 13%) as shown in Figure 10.
Food categories associated with food recalls
Between 2013 and 2022 the most commonly recalled foods were mixed and/or processed food (Figure 11).This is likely due to the wide range of foods that are categorized under this heading, including most long-life packaged food and manufactured items that contain multiple ingredients.
Fruits, Vegetables and herbs were the second most recalled food category, with Dairy Products the third.