Minimising the risk of a product recall
Every year, product recalls cost the British food industry millions of pounds in lost sales, not to mention the untold cost to the business’ reputation.
Every year, product recalls cost the British food industry millions of pounds in lost sales, not to mention the untold cost to the business’ reputation. Here we take a look at how you can mitigate the risk of having to undertake an expensive product recall.
A food recall occurs when a food manufacturer initiates the removal of products from the market because there is reason to believe that the product may cause consumers to become ill, perhaps because of an organism in the food, a potential allergen or due to the mislabelling of the product.
Despite ever-rising standards within the food and drinks sector, the number of recalls seems to be continuing to increase, rising by 50% last year from 56 to 84, according to London law firm RPC.
In 2014, following ‘horsegate’, the National Food Crime Unit was set up with the aim of uncovering incidents of food fraud in the UK. According to RPC, this development together with the supermarkets’ growing focus on supply chain traceability may have led to the rise in food product recalls as food safety becomes an even greater concern. What’s more, with stricter regulations about allergens, a larger proportion of recalls are allergy alerts.
In order to preserve customer confidence and protect their business, food manufacturers must ensure that they have robust processes in place to minimise the risk of a costly recall. For example, close monitoring of the entire production line is essential with regular food tests quickly identifying any problems that need rectifying before the product leaves the production facility.
Mock product recall exercises are also a good idea in order to test the effectiveness of product recall procedures and, of course, given the power and immediacy of social media, every food business should have a comprehensive communication plan in place should the worst happen.
The other essential is for food companies to know their supply chain from start to finish – complete traceability of every product from farm to fork is vital. Given the global nature of today’s food industry, it is becoming increasingly difficult to track the exact origins of every ingredient, but ever more sophisticated software systems are helping ensure that food manufacturers have easy access to a huge amount of data.
For example, Authenticate IS gives Premium members access to a full reporting suite which puts all product data, supplier locations and compliance reports at their fingertips. With real time updates and all your product data stored in a single place, the IS transparency platform puts members in the best possible position to protect their business in the advent of the next food safety scare.