In a mock recall, a company may name a QA or supply chain manager as a designated “initiator,” and an “approver,” whose responsibility it is to verify the information provided by the initiator. The initiator communicates information about the recalled product, such as instructions, reimbursement, supplier contacts, and other relevant information. GS1 US offers a standardized form created by food industry stakeholders that can be used for this called Rapid Recall Express. The approver ensures that what the initiator reported is appropriate and correct.
In a real recall, these professionals would select trading partners that should be alerted. Depending on the type of product being distributed, many processors may have to alert several more parties in the event of a recall, including outsourced transportation partners who play a role in the interception of products at various stopping points. Overall, the team should be crystal clear on when to notify external partners and when to notify the general public.
2. Go Digital
One of the core elements of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint is to focus on Tech-Enabled Traceability, and the draft Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) section 204 traceability rule emphasizes electronic record keeping. By maintaining electronic records, instead of paper-based systems, the speed and flow of data between trading partners can be vastly improved and the impact of a recall can be effectively minimized. Additionally, the New Era places greater emphasis on preventing recalls before they start, encouraging the use of predictive analytics and emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, to understand the specific patterns that lead to contamination.
What this focus on technology tells us is that it’s imperative—it’s no longer nice to have—that all relevant traceability data is collected at each stop in the supply chain. This data will fuel the technology solutions that make it easier to see where a product has been and where it is going. With today’s innovative technology solutions, a mock recall can be conducted in as little as 30 minutes if the proper attention is paid to data collection, data structure, and generally setting systems up for success.
3. Standardize Your Data
Most traceability systems in use today are built upon a foundation of global GS1 Standards to help identify products and product ingredients with precision, as well as provide a uniform way for capturing and sharing information about the products with external partners.
Using GS1 identification numbers, such as the GS1 Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), companies can track trade items and share supplementary information, i.e., expiration date, serial number, batch/lot number, to facilitate the communication of product-specific information wherever a barcode is scanned. These standards will also play a key role in how companies meet anticipated FDA traceability requirements that mandate the recording of Key Data Elements (KDEs) which includes location identifiers as well as the unique identification of products and raw materials, and Critical Tracking Events (CTEs) which includes gathering data for certain foods about any kind of transformation of a product or how it has changed possession along the supply chain.
Imagine a well-known ready-to-eat salad brand discovers its products have been contaminated with Listeria during a routine test. The company would be able to determine the exact ingredient affected using unique product identification and a traceability solution based on GS1 Standards. Specifically, the recall team could trace the products using Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) labels, which are case labels with GS1-128 barcodes encoded with the item’s GTIN and lot number where it was harvested. Because the company has supply chain visibility based on standards and they conduct mock recalls regularly to stay prepared for these situations, they would be able to communicate publicly the exact pack dates, the states and retailers that the product was distributed to and the specific UPCs affected.
Ultimately, this year is placing a huge spotlight on traceability, with New Era plans being put into action, coupled with a continuing focus on food safety and transparency from consumers. Mock recalls confirm your company’s ability to trace products throughout the supply chain with speed and accuracy, and they can be a critical tool for evolving your food safety plan to meet new requirements.