An annual report released by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) reveals that most of both countries’ food recalls throughout 2014-15 have been due to undeclared allergens and microbiological contaminations--primarily Listeria.

FSANZ--the leading authority on food safety regulation in Australia and New Zealand--announced a total of 58 recalls during that time. This was a 12 percent decrease compared to the 66 recalls issued in 2013-14. Here’s a brief breakdown of the recall causes:

  • 20 undeclared allergen recalls (eggs, peanuts, wheat, dairy, sesame, tree nuts, soy)
  • 19 recalls caused by pathogens (8 Listeria, 4 “bacterial or microbial”, 3 Salmonella, 2 viral, 1 each for Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus)
  • 12 foreign material recalls
  • 2 biotoxin recalls
  • 1 recall for mislabeling
  • 4 “others”

According to FSANZ’s CEO Steve McCutcheon, the agency’s focus over the past year “as been on meeting the strategic imperatives of the 2012-15 Corporate Plan — developing fit-for-purpose food standards, contributing to the management of food risks and providing information to help consumers make decisions,”

As far as other accomplishments in 2014-15, FSANZ made its first major revision to the Australia New Zealand Food Code (established in 2002) that will take effect in March 2016. FSANZ also spent a significant part of the year responding to the Hepatitis A outbreak caused by imported frozen berries. McCutcheon said the agency collaborated with food retailers, importers and other agencies to quickly remove the contaminated product from store shelves and homes where berries had already been purchased by consumers before the widespread recall.

Two code changes that didn’t make the cut revolved around infant food and dietary supplements. “Abandonment of these two proposals was consistent with the principle of not adding to the industry’s red tape burden without good reason,” says McCutcheon.

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