Are You Practicing Effective Food Recall Management?

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Are You Practicing Effective Food Recall Management?

Every year in the U.S., 48 million people become ill as a result of foodborne contaminants, deliberate contamination and economic adulteration, according to the CDC. Of these 48 million, 128,000 people are hospitalized, and approximately 3,000 die. The CDC also estimates that about 70% of investigations are never resolved at the state level. This news is quite unsettling; according to Food Safety Magazine, manufacturers should review and evaluate current recall management practices in an effort to improve upon these statistics. For manufacturers, reducing the likelihood of a product recall is also key in protecting your brand. Here are a few facts you may (or may not) find surprising:

  • Excluding lost sales and brand damage for companies, the average cost of a recall is $10 million
  • Of companies surveyed, the execution of a recall takes days or weeks for 52% of companies; the other 48% can implement a recall in hours
  • The population in the U.S. is fast becoming more susceptible to serious illness caused by contaminated foods, because nearly 1/4 of the population is made up of young children, the elderly, and pregnant women
What should you do to determine whether you are practicing effective food recall management?
  • Maintain a current contact/customer list to ensure quick initiation of a recall
  • Know your suppliers, and your suppliers' suppliers
  • Simulate a product recall "practice" exercise to determine where there may be gaps which prolong or prevent a recall of products
  • Consider one critical element of traceability - review of access procedures and records maintenance
  • Rather than a broad stroke approach, develop a targeted approach to product recalls by enabling lot level tracking in warehouse management systems; this approach should trace lot level allocation to specific customers/channels/orders.
  • Use tools available for vulnerability assessment such as those available on to evaluate and compare the adequacy of your current food defense programs
Perhaps most important of all, companies should have a traceability solution in place which is based on information capture, storage and processing, and collaboration. As you can see, recalls are a huge concern and cost companies not only millions in revenue each year, but possibly their brands as well. Markem-Image provides unsurpassed industrial traceability solutions, helping manufacturers around the world reduce the risks and potential brand damage associated with recalls.

January 10, 2014
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