Recalls were down in Q1 across all industries — including food and beverage — for the first time since at least 2012, according to the most recent Stericycle Recall Index.

But the numbers are misleading, cautions Chris Harvey, Director of Recall Solutions at Stericycle Expert Solutions, in a press release, because the decrease can be attributed to the 35-day government shutdown that resulted in 40% of the FDA workforce going on furlough and brought food safety inspections to a halt.

Harvey commented: “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.”

With that in mind, here’s how the food industry fared on the recall front:

  • FDA recalls were down 36.5% to 99, their lowest since Q1 2016. Recalled units were up 67%, due mainly to one large recall in the prepared foods sector. More than 17% of FDA recalls were of products that were distributed nationwide.
  • The number of USDA recalls declined more modestly, just 7%, but total pounds recalled was down almost 92%.
  • Undeclared allergens were the top cause of FDA recalls, while undeclared allergens and foreign materials (primarily plastic) were tied for the top cause of USDA recalls.

For more information, view the Stericycle report.