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Recalls up in Switzerland but down for Belgium in 2023

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Switzerland has reported a rise in warnings and recalls in 2023 compared to the year before.

The Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) published 17 public warnings and 73 recalls for food compared to nine public warnings and 39 recalls in 2022. Recalls are conducted by companies and public warnings are made by Swiss authorities.

In 2023, most public warnings or food recalls concerned contamination by pathogenic microorganisms. There were 18 recalls and nine public warnings. Listeria was detected a dozen times, seven alerts were due to Salmonella, six because of E. coli, and two due to Bacillus cereus.

Foreign bodies were in second place with 16 recalls and included metal particles, pieces of glass and plastic parts. A dozen recalls were due to mycotoxins and four were because of pesticide residues.

Allergens prompted seven recalls and four public warnings. Two of the four warnings were due to detection of undeclared milk, and in the other two cases, to the presence of undeclared nuts.

Product types and RASFF data

Various types of products were the subject of public warnings or recalls, most often for the categories “milk and dairy products,” “herbs and spices” and “other/mixed foodstuffs”.

Milk and dairy products were behind a dozen of the warnings and recalls due to pathogens. The category “Other foods” caused 10 foreign body-related recalls. Seven mycotoxin alerts were due to herbs and spices. Cereals and cereal-based products caused three allergen warnings and recalls.

The overall number of Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) notifications rose to 4,684 compared to 4,340 in 2022.

Switzerland can be involved when potentially unsafe products have been distributed to the country, when it is the country of origin of the implicated product or when company checks or official controls identify a problem.

The number concerning Switzerland remained stable at 232. The country published 83 notifications and was the origin of the affected product in 17 alerts.

Recalls down in Belgium

Meanwhile, Belgian food companies recalled 254 products from consumers in 2023 compared to 289 recalls the year before.

In 2023, there were also 85 warnings, mainly due to undeclared allergens in products or the wrong date on the packaging. The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) helps companies to inform consumers who may have purchased recalled products.

More than 8 out of 10 recalls were due to the detection of a chemical or microbiological risk. Nearly half of the products were recalled because of a chemical risk, such as too high a pesticide residue content or the presence of an undeclared additive.

Possible presence of bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella, or E. coli prompted more than a third of product recalls. In total, 17 percent of alerts were due to foreign bodies such as pieces of metal or glass.

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