ExpertRECALL's 2013 Q4 Index found that geographic expansion, an increase in international recalls and large-scale events led to a more complex and challenging recall environment than ever before. While FDA regulated recalls decreased in the fourth quarter of 2013, there has been explosive growth in complexity and geographic reach of recalls, with 35 percent of pharmaceutical, medical device and food recalls affecting at least two countries.

This 'recall sprawl' also saw a 27 percent increase over the previous quarter in the number of FDA-regulated nationwide food recall events. Meanwhile, USDA recalls reflected the trend of growing complexity. While there were just 19 recalls in the fourth quarter, nearly twice as many total pounds were recalled when compared with the first quarter of 2013.

“The fourth quarter ExpertRECALL Index underscores that the complexities of recall management cannot be measured solely by the number of events,” says Kevin Pollack, vice president of recalls, ExpertRECALL. “In addition to geographic complexities, the fourth quarter also saw the US government shut down for two weeks in October. The industry experienced the fewest recalls reported in the last year and a half during that month, suggesting that changes to the political climate can further complicate recall management.”