For 73 meat recalls this year and last, recovery rates averaged only 44 percent according to a USA Today analysis of data supplied by the Department of Agriculture.
The newspaper reported Monday that for five recalls following reports of consumers becoming ill, recovery of the trained products averaged just 20 percent.
USDA spokesman Kenneth Petersen says recovery rates vary according to how quickly meat gets to market and the number of days between production and when a problem is first detected.
Petersen says the recovery rate is higher when the USDA's own testing results in a meat recall.
Fifty-four recalls have been ordered in 2007, up from 34 last year.
In an effort to get consumers to pay more attention, the USDA plans next year to publicize the names of retailers who have sold meat that was later recalled.