The cost of product recalls is soaring as retailers ruthlessly punish the offending suppliers – and news of goods gone bad spreads like wildfire across social media.

Insurers are seeing a surge in pay-outs to food manufacturers for products taken off the shelves, with the number of investigations by the Food Standards Agency higher than it was two years ago during the notorious horsemeat scandal.

Last year, the FSA investigated 1,645 incidents in the UK – up on 1,562 incidents in 2013 at the height of the horsemeat scandal.

Reasons for recalls vary in severity from contamination to mislabelling on packaging. The agency’s data suggests the number of recalls due to allergens has increased in recent years.

Claims for environmental contamination – where extraneous products are inadvertently introduced into food or drink – are down.

However, incidents involving microbiological contamination, such as the accidental introduction of bacteria, yeast, or mould, have almost doubled since 2006 – with 309 cases last year.

Many, if not most, product recalls pass customers by, with big scandals like the horsemeat issue the only ones making headlines.

With complex supply chains comes the need to identify the critical points of failure – this can only be achieved through full understanding and transparency of the global supply chain.

Last year, the FSA investigated 1,645 incidents in the UK

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