Food safety recalls occur for a variety of foods

A chart showing the total number of food recall events by food category, years 2004 to 2013.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are the primary Federal agencies responsible for overseeing the safety of food sold in the United States. Both agencies engage in preventive actions to protect consumers from unsafe foods, including overseeing food product recall events—the removal of risky food products from the U.S. marketplace. A recent ERS study used a unique data set to identify trends and patterns in recall events during 2004-13—a period that included several highly publicized foodborne illness outbreaks and the enactment of two major food safety laws. From 2004 to 2013, there were 4,900 food recall events in the United States involving a wide variety of foods. A recall is announced to the public by a manufacturer or distributor and may include multiple recalled items. The majority of recalls were initiated because of possible pathogen contamination and undeclared allergens. Meat poultry and seafood accounted for the highest number of recalls (773), followed by prepared foods and meals, including soups (685) and nut and seed products (532). Together, these three categories accounted for 41 percent of all recall events between 2004 and 2013. The statistics for this chart are drawn from the April 2018 ERS report, Trends in Food Recalls: 2004-13.

Download higher resolution chart (2083 pixels by 1875, 300 dpi)