There has been a recall

Planning and traceability could make the difference for your business

Food & beverage

Recalls happen no matter how much effort a company puts in to producing safe and reliable products. A recall could have a significant impact on a food and beverage business, be it financially or through reputational damages; however, it is possible to minimize losses. Preparations must be made to avoid more costly consequences.

Before getting into the preparations required in the event of a recall, let's first break down the recall problem to see why it is so challenging. Note the following food and beverage process examples:

  • Manufacturing: The recalled product may have started at any level of the manufacturing process; raw materials, intermediate products or finished goods. If the problem occurred at the raw material phase, several different intermediate products and finished goods could be affected by the time the product is recalled.
  • Packaging: By now, the same product may be packaged under different names, brands and packages. For example, let's say that juice at a specific manufacturing plant is recalled. The juice may have been produced in batches of a thousand gallons, but by the time it reaches the consumer, this product is now available in 16-ounce plastic bottles, 1-liter bottles, kid-sized containers and packaged under several different private labels
  • Distributing: Although the contamination may have first started in one small location, thanks to modern technology and transportation, the recalled products may now be all across the country, or even halfway around the world.

The solution for product recalls is two-fold and includes a comprehensive recall action plan as well as a robust traceability solution tool.

First, the plan

When a recall is necessary, fast response time is of the utmost importance. Don't wait for a recall to happen before coming up with a plan. Make sure your recall action plan does not only outline recall instructions but also a post-recall evaluation. Assess the recall's success, and make any necessary changes to the recall plan. This will help ensure that if a product recall is to ever be necessary again, the process will go smoother than before.

Don't forget the tool

In the case of a recalled product, manufacturing companies must have the tools to not only track down the source of the problem, but to do so in an accurate and timely manner. Lot tracing systems are designed especially for this task. Some important features to have in a traceability tool are forward and backward tracking, filtering by date and time ranges, and advanced filter capabilities.

Recalls can be stressful, challenging and costly, but taking the right steps before a product recall happens can help minimize financial losses and ensure less damage to a business's reputation. Be sure to have the proper preparations made before it is too late.

RSM contributors