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Statistics: Food recall incidents and food recalls

A food recall is the removal of a food from further sale or use, or the correction of its label, at any point in the supply chain as a risk mitigation action. It is the responsibility of industry to effectively remove the recalled food from the marketplace.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) role is to inform the public, oversee implementation of the recall and verify that industry has effectively removed recalled food from the marketplace.

The CFIA oversees approximately 220 recall incidents a year.

Most recalls in Canada are voluntary meaning that they are conducted by the recalling food business, with oversight from the CFIA. If a food business is unable or refuses to conduct a voluntary food recall, the Minister of Health has the power to order a mandatory recall for any food that poses a health risk.

To read more about food recalls, please consult our fact sheet.

Informing the public

Informing the public about high risk recalls is critical as consumers may have recalled food in their homes that they should not consume.

Food recall incidents and total recalls

A recall incident represents a breakdown in the food safety system leading to the request for a recall. A recall incident may lead to additional recalls (secondary) and have a common factor(s) such as product, cause, process deviation, etc. (For example, an out of country manufacturer recalls food that was shipped to 5 importers. This is captured as 1 recall incident and 5 recalls in total.)

The total number of food recalls is the measure of all recalls conducted and includes recall incidents and secondary recalls. The number of secondary recalls varies by recall incident.

Food recall incidents and total recalls: April 2015 - March 2020. Description follows.
Description for bar graph – April 2015 to March 2020
Food recall incidents and total recalls per fiscal year from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2020
- April 15 to March 16 April 16 to March 17 April 17 to March 18 April 18 to March 19 April 19 to March 20
Number of recall incidents 266 241 220 185 188
Number of total food recalls 436 428 422 347 560

Food recall incidents and total recalls by hazard

Food recall incidents and total recalls by hazard: April 2015 - March 2020. Description follows.
Description for bar graph – April 2015 to March 2020
Recall incidents by hazard per fiscal year from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2020
- April 15 to March 16 April 16 to March 17 April 17 to March 18 April 18 to March 19 April 19 to March 20
Allergen 135 114 84 66 66
Chemical 9 9 9 1 9
Extraneous material 38 39 42 31 30
Microbiological 71 74 75 77 77
Other 13 5 10 10 6
Total recalls by hazard per fiscal year: April 2015 - March 2020. Description follows.
Description for bar graph – April 2015 to March 2020
Total recalls by hazard per fiscal year from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2020
- April 15 to March 16 April 16 to March 17 April 17 to March 18 April 18 to March 19 April 19 to March 20
Allergen 229 190 138 150 119
Chemical 14 14 11 1 15
Extraneous material 47 52 56 45 41
Microbiological 132 151 204 140 376
Other 14 21 13 11 9

Food recall incidents and total recalls by class

Recall incidents by Class per fiscal year from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2020. Description follows.
Description for bar graph – April 2015 to March 2020
Recall incidents by Class per fiscal year from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2020
- April 15 to March 16 April 16 to March 17 April 17 to March 18 April 18 to March 19 April 19 to March 20
Class I 80 73 71 66 55
Class II 80 85 59 61 69
Class III 106 83 90 58 64
Total recalls by Class per fiscal year from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2020. Description follows.
Description for bar graph – April 2015 to March 2020
Total recalls by Class per fiscal year from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2020
- April 15 to March 16 April 16 to March 17 April 17 to March 18 April 18 to March 19 April 19 to March 20
Class I 167 177 161 184 351
Class II 121 127 135 86 123
Class III 148 124 126 78 86

Glossary

Allergen:
A food product may contain ingredients such as peanuts, milk or eggs that are not identified or are incorrectly identified on the label and that can cause adverse reactions in people who are allergic to the item.
Chemical:
A food product contains chemical residues such as lead, mercury or pesticides that, at certain levels, can affect human health.
Extraneous material:
A food product contains material from an outside source, such as metal, glass or hair. These are not necessarily a risk to human health.
Microbiological:
A food product is contaminated by micro-organisms, such as bacteria, viruses or parasites, which have the potential to cause illness.
Other:
A food product is of concern due to the presence of a hazard that does not fall within one of the above categories. Examples include non-permitted ingredients, nutrition concerns and potential tampering.
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