High-profile food scares reported to and by the Food Standard Agency are “only the tip of the iceberg” after a Freedom of Information request by Trace One revealed there were 1,604 local food recalls last year.
Senior VP, Northern Europe for private label Trace One Nick Martin said: “Whilst the FSA’s remit is to report all food alerts that occur across the UK, the fact that it does not act on local recalls means that there are still many incidents that slip under the radar.”
Main reasons for recalls are incorrect labelling on products or expired use-by dates (82 per cent) and chemical or microbiological contamination and use of unauthorised ingredients.
Martin cited the example that a single council in Wales has, over the last 2 years, acted 63 times to remove unsafe products from sale: none of which have had to be reported to the FSA.
He argued that the lack of consistency in recording and reporting actions taken by local authorities makes it harder for consumers to trust that food safety issues are being dealt with appropriately.
Trace One performed a Freedom of Information request to the Food Standards Agency asking whether the FSA kept records of food recalls made by retailers beyond those listed on the “Food Alerts” section of its website. The FSA responded that it only acted if it was notified of products sold on a national level, which pose a risk to consumers or breach food safety legislation.