Research – An Analysis of Tuna Recalls in the United States, 2002 through 2020

Journal of Food Protection

This manuscript reviews 18 years of voluntary recalls for commercially sold tuna in the United States. This recall information is a valuable indicator of the failure to implement procedures for food safety. The voluntary recalls involve fresh, frozen, processed, hermetically sealed and retorted in a shelf stable pack (i.e., canned tuna), and formulated into other tuna products. The FDA regulations that regulate the capture, processing, transportation, and sale of raw and processed seafood are discussed. These regulations include the current Good Manufacturing Practices, the Food Modernization Act, the Emergency Permit Control, Low Acid Canned Foods, the Seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, Food Labeling, and Sanitary Food Transportation. The importance of traceability and Food Safety Culture to successfully prevent or implement recalls is also discussed. The recalls themselves were separated into product treatment groups: uncooked, canned shelf-stable items, and using tuna as an ingredient. The recalls were further categorized and summarized by reason or cause, such as biological and chemical contamination, undeclared ingredients, under-processing, and foreign materials. The primary causes of recalls of the reviewed tuna products were, in order, Listeria monocytogenes , undeclared allergens, elevated histamine levels, and under-processing of retorted tuna items. The recalls for elevated levels of histamine primarily occurred in uncooked (raw) tuna. Recalls for Listeria sp. and undeclared allergens were considered to be primarily Class I recalls, while recalls for elevated levels of histamine and under-processing were almost always assigned to the less serious Class II designation.

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