Of food recalls


Incoming data in a risk assessment or in a management review of a food safety management system are many. One of them is the information announced by the food & health authorities concerning the food recalls.

If one has a look in the food recalls publicly announced, he will have a picture of the level of the non-conformances taking place in the market. At the same time he will have a picture of the food safety management systems some companies have. These who have made the mistake not to follow the food law apparently they will suffer sooner or later from a food recall.


The publicity of food recalls “push” (and they should) the market to even better levels of conformance to the food law requirements. And this is true and logic both. Like for example the “Scores on the doors” system established in UK has “pushed food business to great levels of food safety conformance the last decade.   Suffice to say that after a decade of application of this system the percentage of the food business acquiring the lowest grades falls below 1% (source: Food Standards Agency, Food Hygiene ratings, February 2015).

Scores on the doors

When businessmen look food recalls and their consequences (not only necessarily money – it is common sense that there is a hidden costs directly connected to reputation of a brand), they start thinking how to avoid that risk. This can easily be done just by following the requirements of the law. To trust this task to the hands of the manager who is responsible for the compliance of the business to the local food laws. This way products and services will be produced under conformance.  It is so simple however facts and data show that is also so difficult for some.


Studying the data published on the website of the Greek Food Health Authorities for food recalls that took place in 2014 some interesting results can be mentioned:

– total food recalls : 32

– product categories: 14

– foodrecallchampions: packagingmaterialsandoils

– in 4 cases food recalls took place because of the RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed).

–  50% of recalls concerned chemical hazards.

–  32% of recalls concerned biological hazards.

– 20% of the biological hazards concerned listeria.

– 3 cases of molds in foods were detected.

– the number of recalls in 2014 were almost the same as in 2013

– 65% of recalls concerned local products.


These are some of the findings concerning the data analysis of recalls. Their meaning is of great importance at various levels and for various organizations. The aim, on the one hand, is the faithful implementation of  Regulation ( EC ) No . 178/2002 on informing the consumers , while on the other hand to raise awareness among businesses and compliance with food legislation. All information is online, the data obtained after analysis are interesting and useful. Food businesses just need to monitor, analyze and do something very simple : to learn from them!


Vasilis Theodossiou, Food Technologist,MBA, Professional Member of the Institute of Food Technlogists (IFT)


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