Two Steps to Handling a Recall

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It’s a nightmare scenario for any F&B manufacturer – realizing that a product has been contaminated or is not safe for consumption and must be recalled. When a product is recalled, manufacturers need to handle the recall swiftly and effectively, ideally before the goods reach consumers. Otherwise, a poor recall can expose customers to additional harm, as well as doing serious damage to the company brand. You can see the devastating impacts in the news today, from the Lactalis baby milk recall to the recall of J.M. Smucker dog food contaminated with barbituates. Fortunately, there are recall management best practices F&B companies can follow. This blog post will cover how digital transformation of manufacturing operations management can help companies handle a recall.

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Plan how to manage a recall

When you learn there is an issue with a product, the first priority is understanding the scope of the issue. By identifying the root cause of the problem, companies can determine the scope of the recall. They can also use that information to manage the recall with suppliers and retailers, and communicate appropriately to public authorities or consumers. Digital transformation of manufacturing operations is extremely helpful, as it enables end-to-end traceability with detailed electronic record of activities for material receiving, production preparation, production and packaging of a product. A manufacturing execution system (MES) integrated with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Enterprise Quality Management enables quality managers to access the complete product genealogy that is so critical to properly scoping and managing the recall.

This product genealogy provides full details of which materials were consumed where, what equipment was used and who did what. It also contains the relevant process and product quality data for each step, along with packaging and labeling specifics. With this information at their fingertips, manufacturers can quickly identify the root cause of a problem. They can also determine to what extent it impacted finished goods. This is a capability we’ve already seen in action. For instance, when Kwik Trip digitally transformed their quality management to meet new regulations and ensure effective operations, genealogy lookup went from two and a half hours to only ten minutes.

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Reduce the Risk of Recalls

Of course, it is impossible to prevent 100% of recalls. However, companies can minimize the risk and severity of recalls by adopting technologies and systems which automate and enforce their food safety practices such as hazardous analyses and critical control points (HACCP) as well as traceability. Consider digital transformation of material and product tracking, job and recipe management and quality procedures with notification of non-conformance. This helps ensure that products are produced within quality specifications, and any deviations are flagged and documented. By implementing these technologies, companies can catch issues before the product leaves the factory. For instance, in 2017 the leading cause of F&B recalls was undeclared allergens and mislabeling. Software that provides 100% label checks helps ensure the right product is in the right packaging, reducing recall risk.

To learn more about the importance of digital quality management and end-to-end traceability and how it helps in responding to a recall, join our webinar with Food Engineering. You’ll learn how Kwik Trip digitally transformed their inventory and production operations. This allowed the company to achieve end-to-end traceability and safeguard quality with electronic recipe and quality procedure enforcement within the plant.

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