Food producers and manufactures are working harder than ever to ensure the safety of their produce. Many organisations now follow a methodology that is underpinned by the three pillars of HACCP (Hazard analysis), TACCP (Threat assessment /defence), and VACCP (Vulnerability assessment / food fraud).
Despite these continuous improvements there is still the possibility that an organisation will have to handle a product recall. This could be due to a contamination event, either accidental or malicious; the problem could be due to undeclared allergens or the fault could be a packaging issue. Therefore it goes without saying that an effective recall plan still remains an essential tool.
Sadly when we are requested to analyse a recall plan and make suggestions on how to improve it we often find a familiar pattern in relation to the omissions. Surprisingly the most commonly found omission is, a dedicated recall team together with their contact details and roles and responsibilities. While it is agreed that the recall team is essential, there are many organisations that believe that they will be able to get the right people in the right place at the right time, without the need to document it.
Another common vulnerability identified in the recall plans that we review is a lack of pre prepared statements and guidance on communications. By considering your communications strategy prior to a recall incident occurring has huge benefits. It will improve your standing with regulatory agencies; it will decrease the likelihood of making a statement that results in litigation and it will help protect your reputation.
From experience we know when a real recall event occurs vulnerabilities are quickly exposed and exploited. They result in duplication of effort, missed opportunities, delays in identifying aetiology and increased regulatory scrutiny.
At Erudite Crisis Associates (ECA) our associates have been engaged in analysing the effectiveness of recall plans for over ten years. We have furnished our clients with actionable feedback and improved efficiency of the team and their speed of response. If you feel that your plan would benefit from an independent review then please get in touch.