Industry unveils recommendations for recalls

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON — The Grocery Manufacturers Association, The Food Marketing Institute and GS1 released a joint industry report aimed at improving the recall process and providing recommendations for better recall execution.

The report, “Recall Execution Effectiveness: Collaborative Approaches to Improving Consumer Safety and Confidence,” focuses on four main areas:
• Communication and collaboration;
• Processes;
• Organization and metrics; and
• Technology.

The study is the second phase of an industry-wide initiative to evaluate systems used to remove recalled products from the supply chain. The Rapid Recall Exchange was the first initiative.

“Consumer confidence is the foundation of food, beverage and consumer products in the industry,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and chief executive officer of the G.M.A. “Without it, nothing we do is possible. That means prevention is our first line of defense when it comes to product safety.”

Deloitte Consulting L.L.P. conducted the evaluation of current and leading recall practices used by consumer product manufacturers and retailers. Survey responses came from 54 companies representing $152 billion in manufacturer sales and $329 billion in retailer 2008 annual sales and 29 interviews with industry executives (15 manufacturers, 10 retailers and four service providers).

The report’s recommendations include:
• More collaboration among trading partners to enable early detection of problems by sharing and investigating consumer complaints.
• Investigating the root cause of recalls to further assess prevention measures that may reduce or limit the need for recalls.

“The report emphasizes communication as a critical component to improving recall processes among trading partners,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and c.e.o. of the F.M.I. “It is equally important that we enhance our ability to communicate with the public to ensure that consumers get the information they need.

“Prompt, accurate and transparent information is a key element of communication that will move the entire industry forward in our shared goal of safeguarding consumers.”

Additional opportunities for improving recall efficiency include using standardized industry tools and processes whenever possible and investing in employee recall execution training at the corporate and store level, according to the report.

“Our research revealed opportunities for companies to provide comprehensive, cross-functional training to ensure their recall processes operate as efficiently as possible,” said Adam Mussomeli, Deloitte’s U.S. supply chain and operations leader for consumer products. “One way to do that is to implement a company recall execution certification program.”

Companies also have an opportunity to use technology to enhance recall execution performance, said Bob Carpenter, president and c.e.o. of GS1 U.S.

“Rapid Recall Exchange is a game-changer with its ability to facilitate and expedite communication in a situation where every second counts,” he said.

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