SALT LAKE CITY — With recalls up across all industries, not just in pet food, MasterControl, a provider of manufacturing software solutions for life sciences, released a new study on the growing trend of recalls. The study analyzed five years of product recall data from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which showed that recalls have increased more than 115% since 2018.

“The first step in creating change is understanding what issues to focus on, which is what we hope this data provides,” said Matt Lowe, chief strategy officer at MasterControl. “We’re seeing that there are problem areas like allergens and categories like infant products that get flagged frequently. This analysis is meant to surface the areas where companies can improve and highlight the crucial need to maintain accurate records and implement more stringent controls that prioritize transparency and accountability in all aspects of their operations.”

According to the study, recalls hit a high in 2022 with over 600 recalls. MasterControl contributes this rise in recalls to government agencies gaining increased regulatory oversight. Additionally, more than one in five recalls by the FDA since 2018 were driven by processing or contamination concerns, like those that occur in pet food recalls.

Speaking of pet food, in the past five years there were twice as many recalls on pet food formulas and animal products than those issued for baby formula. According to the study, baby formula has been recalled eight times since 2018, whereas animal food has been recalled 16 times over the same period.

The company also revealed that nearly one-third of FDA recalls pertained to quality management issues.

“Companies have to do better prioritizing quality management before they injure or impact the customer,” Lowe said. “The increase in the number of recalls since 2018 highlights the vital importance of prioritizing quality and safety tracking across life science and consumer industries. Careful leaders will see that regulators have a closer eye on quality in the manufacturing process than ever before and these changes will require organizations to see quality assurance not just as a cost center, but as a strategic priority for business.”

The Journal of Food Protection released “A Review of Pet Food Recalls from 2003 Through 2022,” digging deeper into the growing trend of recalls on pet foods, treats and chews, ingredients, supplements, vitamins, minerals and drugs over the last 20 years. According to the review, there were approximately 3,691 pet nutrition recalls issued from January 2003 to January 2023. Food products and ingredients accounted for the majority (68%) of these recalls, drugs accounted for 27%, and supplements, including vitamins and minerals, accounted for 5%.

The most common reasons for the recalls include biological contamination, which accounted for 35%, chemical contamination at 32%, and cGMP violations at 8%. Additionally, Salmonella contamination accounted for 23% of these total recalls and nearly 25% of recalls were a result of a melamine incident that occurred from 2007 to 2008.

The recalls were split into three classifications: Class I, in which there is reasonable probability that exposure to the product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death; Class II, in which exposure may cause temporary or reversible adverse health consequences; and Class III, in which exposure is not likely to cause adverse health consequences. Of the 2,503 recalls on pet food products over the 20-year period, a majority (66%) of these were Class I, 19% were Class 2, and 14% were Class 3.

Additionally, of the total products recalled for bacteria contamination, 85% were due to Salmonella and 7% were due to Listeria monocytogenes. Other bacteria contaminants included Clostridium botulinum, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Bacillus cereus.

Read the full review of pet food recalls here.

Read more about recent pet food and treat recalls.