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New peak in food alerts in Germany in 2019

You see them again and again in shops: recalls for food. Unfortunately the review of the past year is no exception.

  • Published: 13.01.2020
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The reasons for the alerts range from harmless packaging defects to microbiological contamination. On the website, the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety Germany draws attention to current product recalls.

The chart shows that since 2015 the number of alerts published has risen continously, reaching a new peak of 198 alerts for food in 2019. If this is spread over an entire year, a food warning is published more frequently than every second day in Germany.

Chart, food warning, maximum level

Reasons for alerts

If we take a closer look at the various reasons why food manufacturers have to take responsibility for recalls, we see that microbiological contamination and foreign bodies are the two top reasons. They account for almost two thirds (63%) of recalls from 2011 to 2018.

Charts, food warnings, warning reasons

Unfortunately, these reasons are to be regarded as extremely harmful to consumers and a decline would therefore be desirable. However, they are again the main reasons for recalls in 2019. As from 2019 alerts for cosmetic products (9 alerts) and consumer products (29 alerts) are also published, which are not listed separately in the alert reasons and moreover the alert reasons are recorded in less detail, the figures are unfortunately no longer comparable.

Charts, food warnings, warning reasons

Nevertheless, a look at the absolute figures shows that in 2018, compared to the overall average, an above-average number of cases in which limit values were exceeded in food (21 cases) was found. This number has increased further by 4 cases in 2019. For microbiological contaminations there are also 3 cases more and for foreign bodies even 14. Whether this is related to the new categories will be shown more precisely in the figures for the coming years.

Comparison of warning reasons in absolute figures 2018 and 2019.

These products are most frequently affected by alerts

The statistics on which products are affected by food alerts are still comparable. The top 3 in 2011-2018 were meat, game meat, poultry and products thereof (145 warnings), milk and dairy products (120 warnings) and cereals and bakery products (93 warnings). This picture is also evident in 2019, where the first to third places are occupied in the same order. This will come as no surprise, as a Listeria scandal at a major sausage manufacturer in particular received a great deal of media attention and has therefore increased consumer sensitivity with regard to meat products. This can be observed very strongly in a direct comparison of the years 2018 and 2019. Whereas meat products were still in second place at 2018 with a share of 12.9%, they are by far the frontrunner in 2019 and account for over a quarter of the alerts.

Comparison of the top 10 product categories for food alerts 2018 and 2019.

Why do these things happen despite strict regulations?

The most important points in food production are hygiene measures and the cleanliness of the production environment. These should in Germany be ensured by the EU regulation on food hygiene (No. 852/2004) and the national food hygiene regulation (LMHV). Nevertheless many companies have problems to develop an effective hygiene and cleaning concept, so that in the past frightening conditions had to be determined at some inspections. In addition to structural defects at the production facilities, inspection reports also repeatedly list heavy soiling of work equipment, work rooms and work clothing.

ProfilGate® is the solution to keep dirt away

The best strategy to keep your production environment clean is not to let contaminants into the building in the first place. It is therefore advisable to install cleaning systems at all entrances that reliably remove dirt. ProfilGate® offers an excellent opportunity here. The innovative system cleans tires, rollers, wheels and shoe soles simply by driving over or passing over them. The patented brush strips work actively due to their pretension and the angled arrangement of the bristles. They remove up to 80 percent of the dirt adhering to tires and soles, purely mechanically.
The ProfilGate® aqua series is recommended for particularly sensitive areas. Wet cleaning with optional addition of disinfectant enables even more intensive cleaning - perfect for the high hygiene requirements of the food industry. The microbial effectiveness was tested and confirmed in 2019 by the EBELIN laboratory in cooperation with the University of Bonn. The bacterium Enterococcus faecium, for example, which has a high environmental resistance analogous to Listeria, could be reduced by approx. 99 % on rolls and soles. With this system, microbiological impurities as well as foreign bodies are sustainably kept away, so germ spread and cross-contamination are actively combated.

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Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit via: + Informationen per E-Mail


Graphiken: Visualisierung durch HEUTE Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG / Datengrundlage per E-Mail durch Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit

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Susanne Dolassek

Team Lead Germany - Specialist Food & Beverage

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