U.S – Food and beverage recalls caused by salmonella and listeria have sky rocketed in 2022, reaching the largest share of recalls for its type in five years.

This is according to an analysis of product recall data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted by Agruss Law Firm.

Current data shows that both salmonella and listeria have impelled 49 food and beverage recalls representing almost two-fifths of all food product recalls—a jump from the share of salmonella- and listeria-related recalls in 2021 and the largest share in five years.

In 2022, salmonella- and listeria-related cases represented 37.4% (49 of 131) of food and beverage product recalls, an uptick from 33.3% (74 of 222) in 2021.

Salmonella recalls

Potential or confirmed salmonella contamination triggered 28 recalls in 2022, representing more than one-fifth (21%) of all food product recalls.

Salmonella is a leading cause of hospitalizations stemming from food poisoning in the U.S. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that salmonella causes approximately 1.35 million illnesses, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths each year in America.

It is in this regard that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the agency will be taking a critical step toward preventing chicken and turkey contaminated with bacteria from reaching consumers.

During the annual meeting of the International Association for Food Protection, USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Sandra Eskina addressed the agency’s plan to declare salmonella an adulterant in frozen breaded chicken products.

This is the first step in the agency’s broader plan to create new standards for all poultry products that are enforceable and efficacious.

The study found that over 2 in 5 product recalls were peanut butter or products containing peanut butter that posed salmonella risk. Nearly 50 varieties of Jif peanut butter were voluntarily recalled in May due to concerns over potential salmonella contamination. 

Other product categories affected by potential or confirmed salmonella or listeria contamination in 2022 include baby formula, vegetables, sandwiches, fruit, chocolate and cheese.

Over the past five years, vegetables accounted for more salmonella-related cases than any other category.

In addition, the report calls out vegetable products as the most recalled food type, mostly due to potential or confirmed presence of salmonella and/or listeria. However, only one vegetable product has been recalled to date in 2022 due to salmonella.

According to the study, potential or confirmed listeria contamination was responsible for 21 recalls in 2022.

Fruits and vegetables took a lead as the major culprits, with enoki mushrooms accounting for half of all listeria-related recalls.

Allergens take top spot in recalls

Despite this spike in salmonella- and listeria-related recalls in 2022, the two culprits are yet to snatch the top spot from allergen-related recalls.

Undeclared allergens prompted 59 food and beverage product recalls, representing 45% of all food recalls and claiming the spot as the top reason for food and beverage recalls. 

The most common undeclared allergens were nuts and milk, which were responsible for 12 product recalls each in the United States in 2022. Over the past five years, undeclared milk allergens were the leading cause of recalls, responsible for 185 cases—14.3% of the total 1,286 recalls during that time.

The product categories most affected by undeclared allergens in 2022 include ice cream, baked goods and desserts, which accounted for more than one-quarter of all allergen-related product recalls, states the report.

Lead/foreign material recalls

Other leading causes of food recalls in 2022 are potential lead contamination and potential presence of foreign materials, as reported by Food Manufacture.

Over half of all food product recalls related to lead over the past five years happened in 2022 which saw the recall of seven food products, all fruit.

Possible presence of foreign material in food prompted eight recalls in 2022, with half related to the possible presence of metal fragments. The categories most affected include candy, baked goods and desserts.

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