Between 2005 and 2014, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) USDA co-ordinated 692 food recalls, among which 40% was caused by incorrect labeling, including undeclared allergens.
Reasons for recall
A food recall occurs when there is reason to believe that a food may cause consumers to become ill. A food manufacturer or distributor initiates the recall to take foods off the market. In some situations, food recalls are requested by government agencies (USDA or FDA).
- Discovery of an organism in a product which may make consumers sick
- Discovery of a potential allergen in a product
- Mislabeling or misbranding of food. For example, a food may contain an allergen, such as nuts or eggs, but those ingredients do not appear on the label.
Examples of food recalls
- Ready Pac Foods, Inc. recalled Salad Kit Products due to misbranding and undeclared Allergens
- Joseph Epstein Food Enterprises, Inc. recalled gluten-free Turkey Meatball Products due to misbranding
- Taylor Farms recalled Turkey Meatloaf Products due to misbranding and undeclared Allergens
Cost implications of a recall
There are several costs an organization incurs for a recall. They are
- advertising costs,
- stock value depreciation,
- recovering of physical stock in retail stores and stock points,
- investment in re-testing and finally
- destroying recalled stocks.
A single food recall can lead to severe financial loss and reputational damage for food producers. 52% of all food recalls cost the affected US companies more than USD 10 million each and other losses which were estimated to be more than USD 100 million. This figure excludes the reputational damage that may take a company years to recover from.
Challenges and Way forward
Today ingredients are sourced worldwide. This leads to greater complexity for food manufacturers as they need to know what the ingredients contain and how it was produced. Not knowing the details could mean that a label warning or an allergen declaration could be missed out, resulting in a recall. The finished product may also be sold globally which means labels have to be designed based on local regulations. The solution lies in providing a collaborative platform on which all the stakeholders are on the same page. The following recommendations can help in reducing recalls
- Setup a structured workflow that involves all stakeholders irrespective of where in the world they are located
- Use standard Brief templates that will prompt stakeholders to share information in a systematic manner
- Provide comparison tools to check if the designer has correctly used the brief content in the artwork PDF
- Provide an updated checklist
- specific to the Product (different products have different claims and content to check),
- specific to the Market (different regulations for different markets),
- specific to the Component (different things to check for a carton and label) and
- specific to the Approver (different departments have different things to check)
ManageArtworks provides food and beverage manufacturers with just that. Its customisable workflow, sophisticated proofing tools, collaboration platform and custom check lists ensure that packaging labels are created in accordance with the standards prescribed by bodies like FDA and USDA.
References: FSIS, Food Safety, Faarp, Lockton, Swissre