Why Your Brand is at Greater Risk of Food Recalls Than Ever Before
You see the news headlines declaring recalls at restaurant chains, supermarkets, meat and produce companies, ready-to-eat product manufacturers and other types of food processors. You see consumers responding on social media and in their individual buying habits.
You know that government regulations have been elevating food safety standards to a whole new level. And you worry about how these industry realities will affect your brand.
But worrying about the risks won’t help your organization address them effectively. Real brand protection requires a dynamic effort to recognize and understand the challenges facing your company.
Your brand is at greater risk of experiencing food recalls than ever before. Why is that? What are the factors contributing to this industry-wide rise in recalls? Which of them are within your control? And what can you do to ensure that your brand survives both current and future upticks? Below are the answers you need to take a proactive, effective approach to food recall prevention.
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The FSMA Effect: Honing in on Preventive Controls
The FDA’s rollout of compliance requirements mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has been shaking up the food industry for months. There’s now a greater responsibility on the part of processors and manufacturers to enact food safety changes that are more preventive in nature. Companies large and small are being challenged to implement the requisite plans and procedures to meet the evolving demands of proactive food safety.
As the focus on prevention advances, so do contamination identification tools and processes. It goes without saying that instituting better methods for detecting food safety issues results in more frequent findings. Make no mistake: This is a positive change! The sooner and more proactively your organization can identify food safety noncompliances, the more effectively you can overcome the risks of brand-damaging recalls.
Yes, transformation in the food safety arena has shined a spotlight on manufacturers and food companies everywhere. It’s true that you have to step up your efforts and improve your processes. There is absolutely greater accountability for food safety on your shoulders -- and more opportunities for contamination to occur. But that doesn’t have to result in the downfall of your brand.
By taking advantage of modern food safety and quality systems, as well as embracing a constructive recall response plan, you can maintain a strong brand image and support a healthy relationship with your customers.
The Ensuing Surge in Audits
One important outcome of FSMA is the more stringent approach to food audits. The bar has been raised in terms of the frequency and quality of facility inspections. This can undoubtedly impact your organization’s potential for experiencing a recall. They key to mitigating and managing this risk is adopting robust solutions for food safety documentation, implementation and validation.
If you take the time to evaluate your current audit preparations and practices, you may find that they’re no longer sufficient to meet newly emerged expectations for compliance. In fact, the majority of processing plants are not properly prepared for a food safety audit. Understandably, the responsibility of routine plant operations often takes precedence over time-intensive auditing needs.
Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. You can streamline your food safety strategies and organize all of your audit data by transitioning to a smart software solution that automatically maintains all of your testing information, remediations and other food-safety related documentation. This approach has the dual benefit of fostering greater visibility and communication across your organization, which are prime factors in reducing the risks of recalls.
The Phenomenon of Supercharged Social Media
The majority of your consumers are walking around with mini-computers in their hands, and they have instant access to the public at their fingertips. From applications like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to product review sites and more, there’s no limit to the communication reach of just one connected consumer.
What’s more, these media outlets have equipped consumers with more knowledge about food safety than they’ve ever had access to in the past. People know a lot about what’s going on in the food industry, and they’re fearful of foodborne illness. As a result, news of personal contamination experiences and other related issues spread like wildfire.
Handling this reality requires a two-faceted approach:
- Make food safety a high priority for your organization, leveraging all the most effective solutions and process enhancements to keep consumer safety at the forefront of your operations.
- Utilize social media in a progressive way to both prevent and respond to food recalls. This means being highly active on your own and outside channels, responding to shared communication and delivering honest, straightforward, helpful information to address concerns directly.
Ultimately, you can’t stop the influx of social media interaction that puts your brand at high risk, but you can protect your brand by using smart tactics and proactive methods.
The Threat of Cross-Contamination and Undeclared Allergens
Undeclared allergens continue to be the leading cause of food recalls, including big offenders like milk, eggs, peanuts and wheat. Food manufacturers are responsible for properly labeling their products with a list of ingredients and allergy warnings so that allergic consumers may actively avoid them. Failure to fulfill this obligation can result in serious ramifications for both your consumers and your brand.
If you don’t accurately state common allergens in your product, you may be subject to a recall. In addition, you could be in jeopardy of receiving criminal and civil penalties as well as suffering costly reputational consequences. The percentage of the population with food allergies continues to elevate, which means your organization is tasked with taking strict precautions to ensure that your products are not being mislabeled or cross-contaminated by known allergens.
This responsibility extends from implementing effective hazard controls and monitoring techniques to embracing high-quality testing, corrective action and verification activities. Your ability to trace ingredients and keep thorough, accurate records is paramount. In the event of an undeclared allergen being detected, you must have the proper protocol in place to initiate prompt recall actions and preserve brand integrity.
The heightened risk of food recalls will undoubtedly endanger your organization if you’re not equipped with the necessary safeguards to protect your brand. Don’t let that happen. Get your comprehensive Food Recall Recovery Kit today, and arm yourself with the requisite knowledge and information to tackle these challenges from a position of strength.