<img src="https://secure.leadforensics.com/133892.png" alt="" style="display:none;">

Despite the increasing legislation surrounding food safety and increased awareness regarding food management, recalls still are a major issue within the food industry.

Whether a recall is triggered through an accidental or deliberate act, the impact on a business financially, and reputation and confidence-wise, can be extremely damaging. In exceptional circumstances, they can even result in a permanent blemish against a company.

So, what steps can be taken to address the potential issues? Put simply, you need to focus on prevention activities, and these activities need to take place throughout the entire supply chain for them to be fully effective.

1. Know your risks

Having a ‘scatter gun’ approach to controls can involve large costs and not necessarily target the rights areas. The start point has to involve a risk or vulnerability assessment across the business to identify areas where accidental or deliberate contamination could occur and where the impact is greatest by considering the likelihood of a risk occurring versus the consequences.

In doing this, you can map your business and identify where subsequent actions can be targeted and justified.

2. Become a control freak

Controls are key to prevention. Implementing suitable internal controls will remove or reduce risks, including segregation controls for both storage and handling, cleaning regimes, line changeover management, and allergen management.

These all need to be created, clearly communicated and managed to ensure they’re followed correctly. Records should be kept to validate that the necessary steps are taken to ensure controls are in place.

Two scientists looking into the container in the factory-1

3. Test, test and test again

It’s important for testing processes to check that products meet the required parameters to ensure the desired finished product quality standards are satisfied. These need to be assigned and the relevant approach taken based on the risk assessment created at the start.

Effective testing approaches should:

  • Be simple to follow
  • Have clear accountability
  • Be consistently applied to ensure ongoing compliance

In addition, the frequency of calibration of any equipment used needs to ensure what is being measured is correct. Those businesses that may operate close to key limits run the risk of not meeting the required process if the accuracy of the measuring equipment is not where it should be. This needs to be checked often enough to ensure this doesn’t happen.

4. Detect and isolate

Effective segmentation needs to be introduced particularly alongside detection to ensure that non-conforming products do not get mixed with good products, and any known contaminants don’t accidentally enter the supply chain.

Labelling is critical when it comes to communicating contents within food products but only works if it’s backed up by a segmentation approach that ensures those content details are accurate.

5. Be proactive

Develop proactive controls to support visual and mechanical inspections of key equipment rather than relying on retrospective one-time audits or detection of faults. This avoids identifying an event after it has happened and can result in potential defective products having been produced already which then have to be managed.

The wider apart these audits or fault detection are, the larger the potential batch of poor-quality products.   

6. Show me the documents!!!

With the implementation of improved processes and approaches through the supply chain, the capturing of relevant documentation becomes critical when it comes to validating the checks and controls are in place.

This should include documents such as supplier certification, internal test procedures and results, and labelling across the entire supply chain cycle. These documents need to be accessed quickly to enable easily validation.

Food manufacturing

Further learning: If you'd like to find out more about the repercussions of product recalls and the importance of robust controls and contingency plans, check out this on-demand webinar

How technology can play its part

There are numerous real-life examples of where recalls have been triggered together with the associated direct costs. However, the indirect costs associated with the impact on your brand can be as much as 4x the direct costs so the threat is very real.

Fortunately, as we’ve just discussed, some steps can be taken to avoid or contain recalls, and technology can play a part in that resolution. 

Using solutions, such as Columbus Food, integrated with other solutions or devices can significantly improve the efficiency of the approach to manage processes and minimise recall risk. However, your choice of solution cannot solve the issue in isolation if the required controls are not in place.

Many businesses still rely on recording details in a spreadsheet or on paper, which means tracing suspect product becomes an onerous manual task that’s very time-consuming and fraught with errors. Those businesses that use this type of approach rely on a “recall it all” process since it’s faster and safer but involves a larger volume of product. 

However, through careful implementation of the right solution and using relevant software features, any recall scope can be narrowed whilst still ensuring public safety and transparency when it comes to meeting regulatory needs.

Here are some specific areas that the right solution can support to manage potential recalls:

  • Management and recording of testing regimes across all inventory and production-related activities
  • Resource scheduling to ensure that appropriately skilled staff are assigned to relevant production, quality and supply chain activities
  • Inventory management to control the use of materials and goods subject to the necessary audits having been completed
  • Process instructions and checklists assigned to individuals using mobile devices
  • Scheduling and management of plant, tool and equipment checks, and enforcement of the recorded checklist actions and measurements
  • Comprehensive transactional data which provides a centralised and integrated system, enabling ingredients and products to be tracked through the supply chain
  • Alignment of product information and labelling through integration with recipe management


Errors can occur in the supply chain process despite the focus on maintaining stringent quality standards. These errors can arise from the quality of a particular ingredient or an issue in the production process for a specific period of time. They could even be down to an entire batch.

Being able to pinpoint the affected product lots and track where they are both internally or externally the scope and cost of any disposal or recall can be minimised. And when you can respond to such issues quickly, both the consumer and your brand can be protected.

Technology is just the first step to managing and minimising recalls

A solution designed for the food and beverage industry and its unique challenges in mind can help you maintain the quality your customers love and expect. However, as we mentioned earlier, even the best solutions cannot help you totally eliminate the chances of recalls if you’ve not worked to change your overall approach to controls.

Our guide to food recalls, labelling and document compliance can help. From improving traceability to making recall management more efficient, we’ll dig deeper into the common reasons for recalls and steps you need to take to boost transparency across your business processes.

Let's get started


Discuss this post

Recommended posts

A key benefit of an ERP system is its ability to unify business systems, processes and operations. So, you might be wondering whether you even need specific ERP software for the food industry. The answer is yes because food products have a life of their own. They constantly change their behaviour, often unexpectedly. That’s why you need food ERP software and not a generic alternative. In this blog, we take a deeper look into the reasons why: Deal with the variances of ‘living’ products Cater for products that need special treatment Manage the goods in and out stages Handle the complexities Prepare for the inconsistency Satisfy supply and demand Deal with the variances of ‘living’ products Whilst a standard ERP system can cover most requirements during the conversion process, it can’t handle the variances of food products. The uniformity and quality variations of ‘living’ products in the food industry can vary considerably during the manufacturing/production stage. Food ERP software is designed to cater for this. In addition, food ERP systems need to be tailored to deal with “attributes” of food items such as size, field, country of origin and so on. Whilst investing in a standard ERP system will get you some form of substitution functionality, a food ERP solution provides enhanced functionality in this area. This is extremely important when dealing with organic and conventional items where it can accommodate multiple attributes. Food ERP systems also provide the capabilities to change pieces of information after they’ve been scheduled or started. Cater for products that need special treatment Manufacturing resource planning (MRP II) is a major part of an ERP system. Food ERP software must go beyond the traditional “make to stock” or “make to order” process of standard ERP systems. This is because food products with a shorter shelf life or that have a nature bound harvest cycle require special treatment. For example: A standard ERP system doesn’t always support sudden changes in processing times. It’s important to have food industry ERP software in order to protect against unforeseen changes to weather or product quality Products with natural growing cycles are only ready when they’re ready, which doesn’t always fit with demand-driven MPS Foodstuffs that have a very short shelf life need their own scheduling algorithm Manage the goods in and out stage Food ERP software is needed when dealing with the intake of raw materials i.e. the “goods in” stage. This is because compared to other industries, the expectation of foodstuff can be much looser. Items can be of multiple varieties or breeds with their own differing specifications. In addition, your ERP system must have enhanced QA functionality to account for extensive quality and customer safety checks to incoming products. For provenance, food businesses need to ensure allergens and the points of origin for the products are as stated. Standard ERP systems generally don’t deal with units of measure, so food industry ERP software often features added functionality to account for this. Once products reach the finished goods stage, having a food industry-specific ERP system will ensure “best before” and “use by” dates are catered for to avoid customer service and safety issues. Handle the complexities The demand planning process is largely the same for food or non-food businesses. But that doesn’t mean you should dive in and invest in a generic ERP system – the food industry has some added complexities that need to be considered such as: The food industry is supply driven. There could be a demand for a product at a certain point but that doesn’t mean the raw materials will be in season or available Lots of products in the food industry are parts of wholefoods or whole crops. Demand for one fraction of a harvest or slaughter may give rise to other fractions that may have a different demand profile Food products can be affected by the weather. Perishable food businesses are in danger from unpredictable weather conditions that can affect daily demand   Prepare for the inconsistency In terms of warehousing, most ERP systems with a built-in warehouse management system (WMS) will cover the functionality needed, however foodstuffs do have some extra requirements during storage. You’ll need food ERP software to monitor positive or negative changes in foodstuff (think of unripe fruit turning to ripe fruit). In terms of inventory, standard ERP systems are used to dealing with consistency. But when we’re talking about foodstuff, it’s rather the opposite – food inventory is inconsistent, driven by its environment, changes all the time and its life can be short. Basically, the level of information required here is too much for your traditional ERP system. Invest in food industry ERP software to gain more detailed information at the item level, such as attributes, secondary units of measure and quality specifications. At Lot level, food systems usually include in-depth data on origin, residency times and allergens. Satisfy supply and demand Supply and demand work together in the food industry and investing in food ERP software will cater for these requirements. Supply decisions are made with the following key questions in mind: What are the main weather conditions? What is the micro-level demand? What is the current quality of stock on hand? What is the current storage situation/capability? What is the maturity of products in the fields/hatcheries/greenhouses? A standard ERP system will not be able to handle these variances unless it’s modified. However, modifications are tricky and the complexities at this level cannot be underestimated. Mistakes can be made when trying to turn traditional supply processes/algorithms into predictive software. Ready to invest in food ERP software? Although it might be tempting to choose the cheapest ERP system you stumble across, having the right solution is just as important as implementing one. The key is to ensure that the ERP and physical processes match at a detailed level. As ERP is a big subject, we’ve created a guide which takes a detailed look at the differences between a generic ERP system and food industry ERP software. Download it now by clicking the button below.
To say 2020 was a challenging year would be an understatement. Whether you were supplying the hospitality, travel or retail sector, your experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic may have been very different. Similarly, the unknown of Brexit loomed large throughout the year and despite a deal being struck with the EU just before Christmas, challenges remain in the food supply chain.
In the food industry, keeping up with the latest technology has become somewhat vital if businesses are to stay competitive. The right technology investments can also stabilise your business’ supply chain in the event of unpredictability.
What does the future have in store for the food and drink industry? In this blog post, we’ll be covering some of the top trends, from the up and coming technology in the food and beverage industry to what today’s consumers expect.
Having the correct ERP system in place is vital for any business to achieve the results it desires. After all, within each industry, businesses have their own specific requirements that they need from an ERP system.
right-arrow share search phone phone-filled menu filter envelope envelope-filled close checkmark caret-down arrow-up arrow-right arrow-left arrow-down