For many years, I have been writing an annual column summarizing notable trends and interesting data related to the preceding year's U.S. food recalls. These columns contrast and compare the particulars of annual recalls, new and emerging trends, and otherwise interesting observations for our audience to reflect on.  

When my firm began tracking recall data, we hoped (and predicted) that we would be able to observe continual improvement over time, thereby objectively demonstrating progress in our collective pursuit of safer, more wholesome food.  Indeed, that is exactly what we have seen, and continue to see from year to year.  So, once again, I am both excited and pleased to congratulate the meat and poultry industries on a job well done!

As some of you know, over the past several years, we created an extensive database and website ( where users can peruse more than 20 years of recall data. We collect and offer this information freely because we believe it offers important insight while fostering a fuller understanding of the relationship between regulation, technology, and food safety outcomes.  

In 2022, there have been only 41 recalls of USDA-regulated meat and poultry products.   Surprisingly, only seven of those recalls were announced for the presence of pathogens (six for Listeria in ready-to-eat products, and one for E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef). A total of 18 products were recalled for the presence of undeclared allergens, and nine recalls for foreign materials. As far as USDA-regulated products are concerned, this was one of the safest years in two decades.

During the previous year, in 2021, there were only 46 recalls of USDA-regulated product. By contrast, in 2018 and 2019, there were 125 and 124 recalls of such products. The best year was 2020, with only 32 recalls of USDA products.  Of course, the giant asterisk in 2020 was the emergence of the COVID pandemic, so it is likely an outlier for a number of reasons.   

Pathogen control has been among the industry's most notable successes in recent years.  While there were 53 recalls for pathogens in 2018, there were only 12 in 2021. In total, Since 2015, the number of recalls of USDA-regulated product have been as follows: 151, 123, 132, 125, 124, 32, 46 and 41.   

As we bid farewell to 2022, I hope you will commend yourselves for another job well done. As we look back at the industry's accomplishments in recent years, we can objectively and confidently state that our efforts have led to unprecedented plentitude of safe and wholesome products.  

On behalf of me and my team, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks for providing us with the safest and most wholesome food in the world and to wish all of you a safe and prosperous New Year.