Determining common contributory factors in food safety incidents – a review of global outbreaks and recalls 2008-2018

Soon, Jan Mei orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0488-1434, Brazier, Anna Kate may orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1744-1190 and Wallace, Carol Anne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1402-2134 (2020) Determining common contributory factors in food safety incidents – a review of global outbreaks and recalls 2008-2018. Trends in Food Science & Technology . ISSN 0924-2244

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Global food safety incidents are frequently reported and are on the rise. Although the increase in number of food safety incidents is impacted by improved surveillance and reporting systems and increased awareness from consumers, nevertheless the increase in food safety issues is a threat to public health and the economic costs of countries and businesses. Hence, identifying the root causes of contamination or recall is critically needed to understand the source of contamination in foodborne outbreaks and product recalls, thus helping food businesses to develop risk mitigating strategies.
Scope and approach
This study aims to identify common contributory factors in food manufacturing incidents leading to potential food safety incidents (e.g. product withdrawals and recalls, food poisoning incidents and legal offences), and to near misses. This study reviews published food safety incidents and recalls collated from official websites (e.g. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, Food Standards Australia New Zealand) and journal databases (e.g. Science Direct, PubMed). Ishikawa cause and effect analysis was used along with published information to identify possible root causes.
Key findings
The total specific food safety incidents and/or recalls with known or suspected causes found over the period 2008–2018 is 2932. Where possible, the contributory and root causes of incidents were identified, or literature evidence was used to determine the suspected cause. Undeclared allergens and cross contamination were identified as the top two recorded causes of food safety incidents/recalls. This review has further proposed the primary and secondary causes for undeclared allergens and cross contamination.

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