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Meat, bakery, dairy: The foods most recalled over safety concerns

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Milk allergens triggered the most food safety recalls in 2023. Photo / NZME

By RNZ

Undeclared allergens in food were the leading cause for safety recalls last year, with milk allergens triggering the most recalls.

New Zealand Food Safety’s annual report for consumer-level food recalls shows there were 70 recalls overall, with 26 for allergens – 12 of which were for milk.

Meanwhile, salmonella found in imported sesame seed-based products led to the biggest food safety recall last year overall, in products such as tahini and hummus.

Several brands of hummus and tahini were recalled due to possible salmonella contamination.
Several brands of hummus and tahini were recalled due to possible salmonella contamination.

Deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle said New Zealand’s food industry was sizeable.

“As a percentage of the food produced and [recalls] are a very rare event, usually it’s some sort of failure of a processing run, the wrong packaging or the wrong labelling is used. It’s not common and it’s usually picked up pretty quickly.”

He said the Ministry for Primary Industries unit had been tracking food recalls for many years but it was only the second year that an annual report, sharing information on consumer-level recalls with the public, had been released.

At the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 an outbreak of Hepatitis A was associated with the consumption of frozen berries, which affected 39 people.

In late 2021, a major recall of raw and soft brown sugar over fears of low-level lead contamination left Christmas bakers with incomplete recipes.

Arbuckle said NZ Food Safety’s priority was to protect consumers and the reports helped it to identify trends and find ways to prevent food safety incidents.

In 2022 and 2023 an outbreak of Hepatitis A was associated with the consumption of frozen berries, which affected 39 people.
In 2022 and 2023 an outbreak of Hepatitis A was associated with the consumption of frozen berries, which affected 39 people.

“New Zealand’s food safety system has a strong track record of keeping people safe and – given the volumes of food being produced, manufactured and imported – incidences of related illness remain rare.

“However, there are occasions when food safety issues occur, and that’s when we work quickly with food businesses to recall the affected product, removing it from the food supply chain and promoting public awareness.”

Arbuckle said recalls showed the system was working.

“You can help keep yourself and your family safe by subscribing to our recall alerts from the NZFS food recall page.”

By the numbers:

  • 70 consumer-level recalls in 2023
  • 48 recalls for domestically produced foods
  • 22 recalls for imported foods
  • 26 recalls for allergens (the leading cause for recalls)
  • 12 recalls for milk (the allergen triggering the most recalls)
  • 23 recalls due to microbiological contamination
  • 14 recalls due to physical contamination

Mixed foods include meals, savouries, pies, pizzas, and snacks.

The report found there were no recalls of alcoholic beverages, edible oils and emulsions, or foods intended for dietary uses.

– RNZ



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