product recall

The average direct cost of a recall to a food manufacturing company is $10 million, and that doesn’t begin to quantify the indirect costs of damage to the brand, bad publicity, or lost sales.

The Growing Complexity of Food Recalls

Recalls are becoming more frequent and complex owing to regulatory and customer requirements. In addition to the increased frequency of regulatory and customer audits, food manufacturing and supply chain processes have become more complex, making traceability more and more difficult.

Most food manufacturers have solid procedures in place to track product throughout their facilities. Unfortunately, most of these procedures are manual and paper-based.  With the financial risk, increased frequency and complexity in today’s food manufacturing landscape, paper based systems no longer fit the bill. It is time you move forward with a technology based tracking and traceability system.

For an integrated system to track your product effectively, all of your direct and indirect contact materials have to be identified as they are received and consumed during your manufacturing processes.  All of this data has to be easy for the shop-floor operators to collect and all data must be validated for accuracy.  All of the data must be saved to a central location and made available in real-time for recall reporting purposes.

Complete Traceability

A robust system must provide bidirectional traceability.

For example: if a supplier notifies you of a quality issue with one of the ingredients, you must be able to determine what products were made from that ingredient, where they were shipped and what inventory you have remaining on-hand.  Additionally, if you receive a customer complaint, you must be able to track where and what time the product was made and, if necessary, identify the cause of the quality issue and determine what other products were impacted.

An efficient data collection system that is implemented correctly will provide this information to you within minutes, which is not possible with manual paperwork.

Implementing a Product Tracking System

In order to implement a successful tracking system, the following critical points must be considered:

  • The system must provide the ability to receive and track all raw material products and packaging materials you receive from each of your suppliers.
  • All ingredients and packaging materials must be linked to your WIP and finished products. These items need to be tracked as they are consumed in production while making a formulation or product.
  • If you use rework, the complexity of traceability increases. All rework must be assigned lot numbers and tracked throughout your process.
  • While you are tracking product, the system should allow you to collect critical control point data.
  • All finished products should be coded with a lot number. The smaller the lot size, the more manageable the recall becomes. The lot number should be relevant to your recall window such as a production day or sanitation period. Each plant’s volume and type of production will dictate how far processors may go in dividing lot size. It is important to document the definition of a “lot” in your recall system.
  • Finished product lot codes must be linked to cases, bags and/or pallets of product sold to your customers.
  • An effective shop-floor data collection system should come with features that help prevent a recall by integrating real time systems. Example: if the temperature of a product goes above a certain limit, the sensor would detect the temperature change, set off an alarm / alert and shut off the production line automatically.

Are You Ready?

How would your organization in the face of an audit or product recall? Do you have the right people, systems and procedures in place and can they be brought into action on a moment’s notice?

Some people are hesitant to invest in shop floor data collection systems because of the cost, but when compared to how much time, money, energy and stress is involved with a food audit or recall, the cost is quite justifiable.

If you’re thinking about leveraging technology as part of your food quality and safety program, we’d love to help! Call one of our data collection system experts at (844) 545 – 8305 or check out our full range of products and services at

TAGS: Food Recall, Real Time Reporting, Shop Floor Data Collection