Following along the vein of our CEO and President Steven Burton’s most recent featured article in Food Safety Tech‘s FST Soapbox last month (“Six Best Practices for Food Safety Audits“), this week Food Safety Tech published “Food Recall Strategies: What You’re Missing (And What You’re Risking).”
Of course, every food company knows that resolving a recall can take years and potentially millions of dollars in fines, product shipping and disposal cost, production line downtime, lawsuits, and lost market share as consumers lose trust in the company. In this article, Burton identifies two frequent problems with a company’s traceability system that can exacerbate the effects of a recall.
The first problem is lack of specificity in lot codes. This makes it more difficult – and in some cases, almost impossible – to narrow down the scope of a recall to specific shipments or date ranges. Burton notes that he has seen a company run the same lot code for three years! This means that, if there should be a recall, the company could be bankrupted because the scale would be massive.
The second problem is even more common: a lack of dynamic documentation. With today’s technology, food production management should be working through a sophisticated management platform that automatically updates records when any updates in implemented in any record. If one department or employee updates a record, but that is not shown in the records of another department or employee, efficiency is lost. These two missing pieces make recalls large, more time-consuming, and more expensive than necessary.
Burton identifies several recall strategies to address these common errors:
- Streamline product lines and packaging options to simplify food safety and traceability practices (and increase profit margins).
- Be ultra-precise with records and lot codes (see the example of Hillandale Farms and Wright County Egg).
- Digitize every department in your production operations (including shipping, receiving, accounting, production) so that all your records are kept in a central database.
- Automate data collection for your records so that the margin of human error is reduced significantly.
- Ensure that your production management system utilizes dynamic documentation to deliver seamless, streamlined, auto-updated records.
There’s no better way to track complex production processes, control hazards, and collect all the necessary information necessary to breeze through audits than by using an automated system. With all your documentation interconnected, you don’t have to piece together the puzzle or play connect the dots—it’s all done for you, and that means you won’t waste millions on recalling products unnecessarily because you couldn’t pinpoint the exact path every ingredient took on the way to the customer.
– Steven Burton, CEO and President of Icicle Technologies Inc.
Recalls are the stuff of nightmares for food producers, but they happen. A little bit of proactive technology will go a long way in keeping your business afloat!
Steven Burton is a technology expert who, in addition to being the CEO and President of Icicle Technologies Inc., developed and continues to build Icicle, a comprehensive food production management platform offering the food industry creative and dynamic solutions for better production, better business, and better public health. Follow him on LinkedIn to hear more about the future of tech, or check out his other articles in leading industry publications.