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Friday, 5 April 2013

Well Organized Recalls – A Sadly Necessary Pre-occupation

Have you ever wondered about what could happen if the resources poured into properly organizing and conducting recalls were spent in preventing them? Some reasons for recall are inexcusable. Take a look: You may view recent recall notices from some "advanced" countries here: 

In a related post to the LinkedIn Group, the question is asked about whether or not voluntary recalls are sufficiently proactive. You may view posted comments here:

This whitepaper - Capturing Recall Costs: Measuring and Recovering the Losses - published by the Grocery Manufacturers Association in October 2011 focused on the experiences of US-based companies and under US law.

It reported the following key survey findings:

• 81% respondents deem financial risk from recalls as significant to catastrophic
• 58% have been affected by a product recall event in the last five years
• 78% manage the risk by procuring insurance
• 77% experienced recalls that had a financial impact of less than $30 million

Food safety and product quality management to prevent recalls should be the industry’s main focus. Unfortunately, the efforts do not appear to be showing cause to respect the many industry professionals who say they are providing solutions.

Incidentally, this GMA white paper provides at least some basis for assessing the industry’s food safety and quality management progress in the years following 2011, with particular attention to the number of grocery chains affected by product recall events. Where do you think the direction will be from the 58% reported in 2011, down, up or the same?

The best strategy for any operation is to develop a well organized recall program but actively and substantively prevent itself from ever needing to activate it. This strategy separates “recall” from “traceability”. There is no question that recalls, where they unfortunately occur, rely on good traceability practices but good traceability is not necessary only because of the possibility of recalls.

For more reasons than to ensure effective product recall, an operation needs to ensure effective traceability of all input materials and products. Good traceability practices form part of the recall prevention strategy. This may sound strange to some who have become conditioned to think that traceability and recall go hand in hand. On the contrary, traceability practices are inadequate if they do not prevent recalls. A good recall prevention strategy involves a good traceability program in conjunction with good operation controls (good stock rotation; good production, product safety and quality control measures; good product acceptability monitoring; etc.).

Recall prevention is actually a stop-gap consideration in the overall goal and strategy that every operation needs to have. The main goal is to ensure the safety and satisfaction of consumers along with business profitability, survival, and loss mitigation. Also, If you are putting out a recall notice, do not add face-saving comments. Consumers are not idiots. They will find certain comments annoying. For example, it is both redundant and annoying to consumers for a recall notice to state: “These lots . . . represent roughly one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of annual production.”

It may seem that consumers are in a better position to conclude that industry professionals who say they are providing solutions merely "are the idiots running the show". No industry professional should be categorized as such. However, without respectable results for their work, such a categorization may be justified.

Recalls may prevent harm to consumers but they do not ensure consumer satisfaction. They may prevent more casualties but they do nothing to prevent the cause.They do nothing for business profitability or survival. For these reasons and more, recalls must be prevented from occurring by the professionals who are providing the solutions. Known proactive strategies in product safety and quality management could be adopted to accomplish recall prevention. The GCSE-Food & Health Protection SSQA proposal incorporates the development and implementation of proactive and pragmatic strategies.   

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