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Point of View – food recalls

Santa Clara, CA, US: Food recalls have been prominent in recent news stories. What key steps should grocers and growers take to protect consumers and their brands from recalls?

This edition of Point of View on Produce, produced by Intelleflex, asks experts from the legal, academic and business communities their to-the-point opinions on food recalls:

  • Melanie Neumann, JD, sr director, Food & Import Safety, Leavitt Partners
  • Melissa Germaine, associate director cold chain research, Georgia Tech
  • Dr John Ryan, food safety and quality expert, Ryan Systems
  • Mike Nicometo, founding member of FreshXperts

“The first key recall risk reduction strategy is having proper preventive controls in place to reduce the risk of causing a recall in the first place.  The second key strategy is to have a robust recall and crisis management plan to guide you through the process of handling a recall should one occur. One last important take-away: documentation is more critical than ever.  If there is one message I try to communicate to our clients it is that in the eyes of the regulators “if it isn’t documented it didn’t happen.”
Melanie Neumann, JD, MS Sr director, food and import safety, Leavitt Partners

“Few consumers select their produce based on brand, therefore a food recall on a particular growers produce will affect all growers of that item. It is in the benefit of the entire industry to work together to minimize food recalls as consumer confidence can be greatly diminished regardless of brand.  Utilizing an effective traceability system will help growers and grocers trace contamination directly to the source since most consumers will not know the brand they ate that caused the illness.”
Melissa Germain, associate director cold chain research, Georgia Tech and director of the Academic Cold Chain Forum

“For those not yet convinced that the food world is in the middle of dynamic change, an attitude adjustment is in order.  Rather than living in a state of arrogant denial, a more humble approach might be taken.  Invite the local FDA, city or even food safety experts into the operation and give them a few hours to point out what might bother them during a recall or stop order.  Let the chips fall where they may then remain idle or set some management priorities.”
Dr JohnRyan, president, Ryan Systems

“Posting real time supply chain data to shared databases provides visibility for “install recall” plus real time metrics to improve logistics. Consider how credit card transactions involving different buyers, vendors, products, currencies and cultures happen in near real time using common data transaction exchange.  Studies have shown the ROI of real time supply chain visibility, where “instant and total recall” is a free by-product –not just added cost.  Our industry needs a common transaction layer with real time logistics information.”
Mike Nicometo, founding member of FreshXperts

“For recalls, retailers and growers also need to think in terms of shopper loyalty, brand reputation, consumer liability and public safety. One study showed a recall costs $10 million plus brand damage and lost sales. It’s essential to automate the recall process with electronic traceability records so tainted product can be identified and destroyed in hours versus days or weeks.”
Kevin Payne, senior director of marketing, Intelleflex

Pevious editions of Points of View are available here