New data collected by Stericycle, a company that handles recalls for businesses, shows a sharp jump in the number of recalls of organic food products, according to a story in the N.Y. Times.
Organic food products accounted for 7 percent of all food units recalled so far this year, compared with 2 percent of those recalled last year, according to data from the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture that Stericycle uses to compile its quarterly report on recalls.
In 2012 and 2013, only 1 percent of total units of food recalled were organic.
Kevin Pollack, a vice president at Stericycle, said the growing consumer and corporate demand for organic ingredients was at least partly responsible for the increase.
“What’s striking is that since 2012, all organic recalls have been driven by bacterial contamination, like salmonella, listeria and hepatitis A, rather than a problem with a label,” Mr. Pollack said. “This is a fairly serious and really important issue because a lot of consumers just aren’t aware of it.”
For that matter, the overall amount of food recalled because of suspected bacterial contamination has increased this year, adding to what has been an upward trend in food recalls since 2012, according to Stericycle, which predicts a 24 percent increase in the number of food units that will be recalled by the F.D.A. this year.
The Organic Trade Association, however, took issue with Stericycle’s accounting of recalls, saying its own quick analysis of recall data from the F.D.A. and the Agriculture Department show the problem is less severe, with organic products accounting for 4.9 percent of recalls, in line with the percentage of organic food sold out of total retail sales of food.
“A key point to keep in mind is that an overall increase in organic recalls between 2012 and 2015 would not be surprising — not because organic food is less safe, but because of the dramatic increase in organic food sales and purchases that we’ve been seeing in this country,” said Gwendolyn Wyard, senior director of regulatory and technical affairs at the trade group.
“Sales of organic food in the U.S. have risen by almost 25 percent just since 2012, and the number of organic products on the market is increasing steadily as demand for organic increases,” she said.
Ms. Wyard also noted that food safety mechanisms had increased since 2012, with a corresponding increase in food recalls.