Consumers are concerned after nationally-reported word that a California company is recalling designated lots of fresh nectarines, plums, plouts and peaches because of listeria fears. The recall is said to be voluntary and precautionary. The company, Wawona Packing, said that Costco and Trader Joe's were among retailers that received the fruit. According to Manufacturing.net, the fruit was shipped between June 1 and July 12.
Supply Chain Efficiency Can Help Prevent Recalls
While there's no official word on exactly how and where the outbreak occurred, safety officials said the bacteria was discovered by staff at a shipping plant, and that demonstrates the supply chain worked. Tracking produce - and any other goods shipped around the country, from seed to server - is a critical part of every shipping operation, and companies need to have the best possible software to keep up the latest technology. Wawona president, Brett Smittcamp, told the Wall Street Journal that the company is being diligent.
"By taking the precautionary step of recalling product, we will minimize even the slightest risk to public health," he told the paper.
Recall Incurs Downtime and Cash Losses
Wawona told the press at the time of the recall that because of the issue they had to shut down their packing lines, re-fit some equipment and sanitize their entire warehousing and shipping operation. Recent tests of the plant for the listeria bacteria have been negative, said the company. No loss figures have been released yet by the supplier, but industry insiders know the losses stemming from this type of recall can be astronomical. FDA regulations stipulate that companies must keep track of where the food they ship originates and provide the necessary documentation to federal investigators within 24 hours of a request. Heavy fines and penalties can be incurred for failure to be compliant. Having digitized and detailed records and strong inventory control instead of reams of paper can help a business to stay in good stead with federal agencies.
Technology Comes In Handy
Barcode software is one of the ways companies are tracking their products. A recent article at Food Quality & Safety showed how barcode software comes in to play for companies shipping produce and fresh food goods. Keeping the company supply chain up to date, clean and secure can all help to mitigate recalls like the one involving California fruit supplier, but having top-notch software to help monitor the process can almost eliminate any problem that arises by staying op top of every step of the process.
Food Traceability Survival Tips from the Trenches
The RFgen white paper "Protecting Your Brand: The Food Traceability Survival Guide" addresses the issues distributors face when a recall is issued. To reduce the impact of a recall, the white paper makes the following suggestions:
Make Traceability Part of Your Core Technology Processes:
1. Use an ERP system. With a centralized system that can track by lot numbers, SKUs, serial numbers and more, you'll have the ability to track ingredients through the manufacturing process and products through the supply chain.
2. Employ automated data collection with barcodes or RFID. Scanning a barcode is a simple, accurate, and efficient way to gather information capture large volumes of information quickly about materials and finished products.
4. Design validity tests for incoming information. Help employees avoid mistakes by creating logical, efficient workflows that include tests that prevent bad data from entering the system. For example, you can set up your automated data collection system to prevent an employee from entering a lot number in the warehouse that hasn't been created in the ERP system.
5. Use your IT systems to perform timely product holds. Use your ERP and data collection system to ensure that lots being tested for quality or safety are held in the warehouse until results are available and then released quickly for shipment and sale.
6. Give your customers the information they need. License plating makes it easy to provide retailers with complete information about country of origin and other product attributes.