Don't let product recall bring down your business

Greenyard Frozen UK, a major fruit and vegetable supplier, was forced to recall 43 of its sweet corn-based products in July
Richard Willis

IN July, supermarket shelves across the UK were cleared of frozen vegetables after Greenyard Frozen UK, a major fruit and vegetable supplier, withdrew 43 of its sweet corn-based products.

The product recall, which has resulted in many more lines subsequently being removed from sale, came to light following an announcement from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that the produce may have been contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause a fatal illness known as listeriosis.

This case illustrates that in today's global marketplace, the threat of product recall has become even greater. Products and supply chains are becoming increasingly complex, and the regulatory landscape more robust, increasing the need for businesses to take the necessary steps to protect themselves.

Ultimately, a business cannot predict when a deadly contamination will force their organisation to face the consequences of a food product recall. However, taking the appropriate measures to prepare for such an incident will minimise the chances of this occurring.

A business must understand the potential reasons for a recall, enforce proper prevention tactics and know how to generate a response plan.

Measures to prevent a product recall include ensuring raw materials and ingredients come from trustworthy suppliers. Before doing business with a source, the buyer should make sure the seller is registered with local enforcement.

Alongside this, utilising food assurance schemes allows manufacturers to guarantee that the ingredients or raw materials provided by suppliers are produced to specific standards, ensuring food quality and safety.

Businesses should also enforce a system that conforms to industry-recognised food safety management standards, such as the British Retail Consortium Standards.

Additionally, all systems should incorporate the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, including specific records that demonstrate the actions your organisation has taken to follow proper food safety precautions.

Even if a business strictly adheres to a list of preventative measures, a food product recall may still occur in the future. Establishing an effective response plan will help to prepare for the unexpected.

Guidelines to follow include; communicating with the relevant authorities, such as the FSA, immediately halting the production of the ingredient and product, ensuring proper traceability on all products by saving invoices and receipts related to the production.

A product recall can be a worrying prospect for any business, with the potential for not just financial loss, but along with the added fuel of social media, significant damage to a business's brand and reputation.

With the right expertise, a business can protect itself through purchasing product recall insurance.

No matter how high manufacturing standards and quality controls are, defect and contamination risks will always remain a threat.

:: Richard Willis is managing director of Willis Insurance and Risk Management

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