Product recalls are an issue that food manufacturers have to deal with and manage accordingly. Did you know that so far in 2022, there have been 86 product recalls in the food industry alone – that’s over 3 every week on average!

While not a glamorous procedure that businesses ever want to undertake, recalls are a necessary part of manufacturing to protect consumers from compromised products. Typical reasons for a recall in the food industry include products with:

  • Metallic or plastic compounds.
  • Undeclared allergens.
  • Harmful bacteria like Salmonella.
product recall

When a product recall occurs, it can cost the manufacturer a massive amount of time and money, not to mention the loss of customer trust. Time is needed to work out where the issues have occurred and what the affected batches are, and then actioning the recall itself. There’s the monetary cost of notifying the relevant parties, retrieving the product and inability to sell those produces as well as the impact to existing operations.

Crucially, product recalls result in a loss of trust for customers and the reputation of your business. This is likely to have a more lasting impact than the recall itself, due to customers not wanting to purchase from your brand in future as a result.

Research found that 55% of people would switch brands after a product recall!

HOW SHOULD YOU RESPOND TO PRODUCT RECALLS?

Having an electronic traceability system in place in your business makes it much easier to fulfil your responsibilities and obligations in the event of a recall. If you’re a food business operator who is initiating a product recall, the Food Standards Agency explains that your responsibility includes:

• Immediately stop supplying the affected food.
• Notify the relevant parties, with information on why the product is being recalled and proposed action.
• Ensure unsafe products are clearly identified and dealt with accordingly.

Likewise, if you are a business that has been notified of a recall then, among other things, you need to:

• Remove the affected batch of unsafe food.
• Ensure it is clearly identified and kept separate from non-affected food.

You can read the FSA’s complete guidance here.

HOW CAN ELECTRONIC TRACEABILITY HELP?

Traceability can help you complete each of these necessary steps in the case of a recall. More specifically, an electronic or digital traceability system can help you spot and identify affected batches much quicker. Bidirectional traceability can allow a business to identify how a unique lot has moved throughout the production process by tracking forwards and backward if necessary.

This means it is easy for you and your team to quickly identify which batches or lots have been affected by contamination for example, and where that has occurred. With unique lot numbers, you can track the movements of affected lots to see their journey through your operations and a clear picture of which lines, batches, and products have been affected.

Traceability

With this kind of information readily available, your business can ensure the prompt removal of unsafe items from your production lines. You can also use this information to support your notification to the relevant parties like suppliers, customers, and authorities.

The best way to minimise the impact of recalls is to prevent recalls in the first place. A traceability system like our own can help you guarantee the quality and safety of your products thanks to tools like allergen controls and quality assurance questions in production.

To learn more about the best tools to ensure best practice when handling allergens, you can read our post below.

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