Dietetic foods and food supplement recall notifications grew by 89% in the quarter, according to the Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS European index.
The firm said the increase in Q1 was due to a rise in spending on such products as consumer confidence grows and disposable income increases.
The US saw the biggest increase of 117% in terms of notifications by country of origin, mainly due to dietetic foods and food supplements and non-alcoholic beverages being rejected.
Despite the huge jump, dietetic foods, food supplements and fortified foods only made up 8% in the top product notification areas.
Fruit and veg was top (24%), followed by fish and fish products (13%) and nut, nut products and seeds (12%).
Farzad Henareh, managing director Europe for the recall division, said that while the percentage increase was large the overall number of notifications was not that big.
“There are a lot of manufacturers chiming into the market and developing products with zero fat or low calories,” he told FoodQualityNews.com.
“The increase shows there are many more products of this type of food than were previously sold.
“Manufacturers are working with different and new suppliers and it is a relatively new market so it has to go through the learning curve, as it has taken the food industry a while to master their old suppliers.
“Manufacturers need to know their supplier and take them through a rigid audit process and use government and market surveillance guidance to mitigate risks.
“I would even advise spending more money on a second opinion to ensure product is safe, especially when you are forming a new supply chain.”
Decline in notifications
Notifications in the food sector accounted for the majority of Q1 2014 figures but despite overall growth (in markets including automotive and consumer goods), there has been a year-on-year decline in food notifications.
Across 2013, the first half of the year saw food make up 67% of notifications out of consumer goods and automotive. However, in the second half of the year Food notifications fell to 55%.
There were 788 notifications for including food, feed (animal food) and food contact materials(packaging), which represents an increase, though similar to the previous quarter’s figure of 770.
The most common reasons for a food-related notification, one in four occurrences, arose from the risk of Salmonella or aflatoxins, naturally occurring contaminants produced by mould on crops
Poultry meat and its products saw large decreases, down over one-third due to a drop in Poland, where the number of notifications fell from 19 in Q4 2013, to just five in Q1 2014.
Henareh advised firms to be on top of regulatory changes either from someone in the compliance team or by seeking outside help.
“Overall other industries spend more time and effort on communication during post-crisis but through different channels it could be improved. For example using Twitter is a great way of informing your customers and clients, some food firms are proactive but others are not.”
Products from India, Turkey and the USA were most often subjected to an alert as items from five countries accounted for 37% of all notifications.
The countries most likely to issue a notification this quarter were Italy (16%), Germany (12%), UK (11%), France (11%), Spain (6%) and the Netherlands (6%).
France and Germany experienced significant increases quarter-on quarter, 56% and 60% respectively, due to notifications for fruit and vegetables, and fish and fish products.
There is a wider spread of food products sold across all areas than there used to be, said Henareh.
“We take renotifications out of the index so it doesn’t double up. Before there was a higher number one country but now they are more widely spread.
“Globalisation of the supply chain means that a manufacturer may have its main facility in one country but the cause of a notification could be a supplier in another country.”
Nuts and their products and seeds increased by 22% due to a rise in spending as consumer confidence grows and disposable income increases.
Stericycle said it was likely that new EU legislation around food labelling standards (169/2011), which comes into force in December 2014, will impact the number of food notifications due to stricter requirements.
Initially there will be a rise in notifications as the standards force manufacturers to act but as the regulations are felt, manufacturers will adapt and notifications will begin to drop again – likely to lower levels than they are currently at, said the firm.