When it comes to handling food in the supply chain, a recall on a food product can make a severe dent in the bottom line. Potential contamination or mislabeling can occur anywhere along the supply chain network, meaning upholding top-level safety measures at your facility may not be enough to prevent a recall. Therefore, having a way to carry out recalls as quickly and efficiently as possible is crucial to minimizing its impact and avoiding a public health hazard.
Traceability technology does exactly that.
With recent news of the big hamburger and hot dog bun recall by Flowers Food, it’s clearer than ever that supply chain companies that distribute, deliver, manufacture or prepare food products need a traceability solution in place.
Watchdog organization Public Interest Research Group reports that food recalls in the U.S. have increased by 10% year-over-year since 2013. Recalled foods have been expanding from meats, such as beef and poultry, to other food types, like cookies, beer, produce and more.
The potential for a recall on raw ingredients or finished food product is no longer just a possibility, but an inevitability. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is only going to become stricter as time goes on.
What does this mean for the bottom line?
Flowers Food (mentioned above), one of the largest bakery companies of its kind in the U.S., raked in $4 billion in sales in 2018. After the cost of this recall, their 2019 sales may fall short of year-end goals.
If a costly recall can hit one a big food and beverage company like Flowers Food, then it can happen to anyone in the food and beverage supply chain.
Learn More: Traceability solutions for food and beverage »
Fairmont Foods faces a Class II recall on “ready-to-eat Pork and beef gravy products” used at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen chain restaurants due to contamination with “extraneous materials” such as plastic. Although considered low risk, the cost of recalling these 45-lb. cases of food puts a ding in the company’s revenue.
Pet Supplies Plus (PSP) is recalling “bulk pig ear product” from all its locations due to possible contamination with Salmonella. The recall is voluntary, but a direct result of dual investigations by the FDA and CDC.
FSIS testing revealed E. Coli in raw beef products, prompting a high-priority Class I Recall of 62,112 pounds of beef from Aurora Packing Company, Inc. Thankfully, no illnesses have been reported due to the contamination. Getting these recalled products off shelves and out of circulation as soon as possible may require Aurora Packing Company to tap into additional resources to keep it that way.
Grower/distributor Henry Avocado voluntarily recalls whole avocadoes over potential listeria contamination. Forbes.com offers a thorough explanation of the health risks associated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Much-loved Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies received a voluntary recall from manufacturer Mondelēz Global as a precautionary measure. A previously unidentified issue in production didn’t fully mix ingredients, which then solidified during baking, according to Tech Times.
Butterball announced a significant recall of 78,000 pounds of ground turkey distributed to Kroger and Food Lion grocery stores across five states in the U.S. due to Salmonella contamination. Better Homes & Gardens reported that the CDC and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services are both investigating the outbreak of food poisoning that resulted.
And these are just a choice handful. The USDA’s full list of current recalls and alerts is much longer.
With traceability software in place, you would know when, where, how and how much of the product is in your supply chain. In just minutes, the recalled items can be identified, located and set aside for disposal before it impacts the public – or your bottom line.
The cost doesn’t end in simply tracking down and disposing of the contaminated inventory. For food items not recalled quickly enough, fines, lawsuits, and internal revamping as a result of additional regulatory oversight can impact profits for years to come.
Beyond cost, failure to act swiftly and efficiently can endanger public health. The negative press this generates is a surefire way to damage partner relationships, not to mention the brand image of your customers. Traceability can enhance operational agility and response times to reduce these impacts.
With all these factors in mind, traceability is not only a safety measure for your enterprise, but an ethical, logical solution to the inevitable: a food recall.
Not sure what the definition of a Class I or a Class II recall is? The USDA’s FSIS offers this helpful quick reference for its recall classifications:
A Class 1 recall is a health hazard situation that represents a “reasonable probability” that using the product will lead to “serious, adverse health consequences.” A Class I food recall is the highest priority recall issued by the FSIS.
A Class 2 recall is a health hazard situation with a “remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use of the product.”
A Class 3 recall is not a health hazard situation and is not known to produce or “cause adverse health consequences.”
For more information on the latest recalls, visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s official website.
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