Speed of recall a challenge in product withdrawal

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cent, Recall election

Speed of recall when withdrawing products from the market is cited
as the top challenge confronting US-based food processors, with 39
per cent of executives saying the biggest communication gap occurs
at the store-level.

The survey by software provider RedPrairie also provides an insight for European-based companies into some of the techniques their competitors use to make recalls, both in the US and internationally. Recent high-profile recalls for beef and peanut butter have raised public fears about the safety of the food supply chain. Issuing speedy recalls is important in reducing costs, brand damage and the risk of costly lawsuits if consumers fall sick -- or die -- from a contaminated product. The survey indicates food and beverage companies still have some work to do in making the recall process faster and more efficient, RedPrairie said. About 44 per cent of those who responded said that their products can be pulled off the shelf in a few days, while five per cent said it would take weeks. About 7 per cent could pull products off the shelves within "minutes", while 32 per cent could do it in a matter of hours. Another 12 per cent didn't have a sense of how long it would take to pull their items from the store shelf, indicating a lack of visibility and control across the extended supply chain, RedPrairie stated. The survey revealed that 63 per cent of participants felt their current recall processes were "somewhat effective". Only 22 per cent felt their processes were "extremely effective". Another 15 per cent said their recall processes were either "not effective" or "somewhat effective". Another 63 per cent indicated they would like their recall technology linked to the network interfaces at retailers, including the systems link automatically giving off the alarm at the register when a customer attempts to buy a withdrawn product. While concern over safety of Chinese manufactured goods has dominated the recent press coverage on recalls, respondents to the survey had a mixed opinion on the safety of food and ingredients produced outside the US, RedPrairie noted. About 52 per cent indicated the safety of non-US produced food items as "excellent", "very good", or "good". Another 39 per cent indicated the safety of imported foods was "not good". About 10 per cent claimed they had "no visibility" into the safety of non-US food items. Only 34 per cent of companies have changed their recall processes in response to the recent rash of recalls. About 32 per cent have changed their recall technology in the past few months. The survey found a wide range of technologies being used to manage and execute a recall, said Tom Kozenski, a vice president at RedPrairie. "These results are consistent with what we see with many food retailers and grocers,"​ he stated. "Automation is the only way to really verify if recalled products have been pulled from the shelves in an efficient, accurate and timely manner."While there is work to be done to improve the management and execution of recalls in this country, the processes and technology exist to create a seamless communication flow throughout the food and beverage supply chain." ​ Food and beverage companies have particularly complex supply chains. A recent US-wide recall of Peter Pan branded peanut butter involved several entities for example. These included the raw materials suppler, the manufacturer, the retailers, and the trucking company that delivered the product. RedPrairie supplies a form of service oriented architecture (SOA) tracking software to about 25,000 sites worldwide. The software is used to synchronise people and products throughout the supply chain. The survey was conducted in August and September. A summary of the survey can be found at www.redprairie.com/recall.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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