Conducting a recall is a trying experience for any organization. Recalls cost an organization revenue, brand equity and consumer trust.

While recalls may not be completely avoidable, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the risk.brendaPercy_IN

Take a proactive approach. Prevention is the best approach to take when it comes to food safety. By incorporating safety and quality initiatives into the process of food manufacturing, you will be able to effectively lower your overall risk of recall. Food safety processes such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) and regulatory initiatives such as the GFSI-benchmarked schemes and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) have been put in place to ensure safety practices are followed and the safest possible food is produced.

Establish a recall plan. All organizations within the food and beverage industry should have a plan in place to prepare for a recall. Conducting mock recalls is necessary to ensure that the plan is effective. It also ensures that in the event of a recall, all necessary steps are executed correctly, the first time.

The recall plan should cover submission of information to the FDA, how the public will be notified and how the recall will be evaluated to vet its effectiveness. It is essentially your “map” of the recall process and will guide you through each step of the process. All members of the recall team should be identified as well as the hierarchy of the recall team decision makers.

In the event that a recall is necessary, technology can help guide you through the best practices of recall management. Here’s how food safety management systems can help.

Submit recall information to the FDA. Once the need for a recall is determined, you must submit all product complaint/defect data to the FDA, as well as information describing how you intend to return all products. An automated complaint handling process will keep track of all complaints that you received and will manage the investigation and resolution of these complaints in compliance with the FDA’s guidelines. In this aspect, traceability is key. An automated product returns tool will enable you to identify and track all returns, identify the reason for the return and show you the quantities that need to be returned.>

Notify the public. Once the FDA has received all information and your recall plan has been put in action, you must notify all parties affected by the recall. An automated document control tool will ensure that you already have all of the documentation, such as templates for press releases and notification letters. The document control application is revision-controlled to ensure companies are working with the most up-to-date information.

Evaluate the recall. The next step is to verify the effectiveness of the recall. You must send the FDA information regarding the root cause of the recall as well as the corrective actions you took to close the recall. The automated corrective action process will record and track any corrective actions taken and ensure that these actions were effective. Integration with a risk management tool will ensure that all corrective actions have reduced risk to acceptable parameters.

Terminate the recall. Termination of the recall can begin once it has been confirmed that all parties involved have been notified and all traces of the product have been recovered.

To lower your risk of having to conduct a recall, it’s important for your organization to take a proactive approach to food safety. Having a recall plan in place and acting on this plan with mock recalls will ensure that if a recall is needed, you will be prepared to act quickly and effectively.