Speed of recall top challenge for food companies

by Bryan Salvage
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MILWAUKEE ― The “2007 Survey on Q.A. and Recall Technology for Food & Beverage Companies,” conducted by RedPrairie Corp., a supply chain management company, revealed that 63% of participants felt their quality assurance and recall processes were “somewhat effective." Speed of recall was chosen as the top challenge confronting U.S.-based food companies and 39% of respondents feel the biggest recall communication gap occurs at the store-level.

Other findings from the survey include:

• Forty-four per cent responded that their products may be pulled off store shelves in a few days.

• Twelve per cent didn’t have a sense of how long it would take to pull their items from the store shelf, indicating a lack of visibility and control across the extended supply chain.

• Sixty-three per cent of respondents indicated they would like their recall technology linked to point-of-sales (P.O.S.) interfaces at stores, including the P.O.S. systems link automatically shutting off the recalled s.k.u. (stock-keeping unit) at the register.

Respondents to the survey had a mixed opinion on the safety of food and ingredients produced outside the United States. Fifty-two per cent indicated the safety of non-U.S.-produced food items was excellent, very good, or good, while 39% indicated it was not good, and 10% claimed they had "no visibility" into the safety of non-U.S. food items.

Only 34% of companies have changed their recall processes in response to the recent rash of food safety-related recalls. Thirty-two per cent have changed their recall technology in the past few months. The survey found a range of technologies being used to manage and execute a recall.

"These results are consistent with what we see with many food retailers and grocers," said Tom Kozenski, vice-president of product strategy at RedPrairie. "Automation is the only way to really verify if recalled products have been pulled from the shelves in an efficient, accurate and timely manner. While there is work to be done to improve the management and execution of recalls in this country, the processes and technology exist to create a seamless communication flow throughout the food and beverage supply chain."

For more information about the survey, visit www.redprairie.com.

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