Reducing food recalls through supply chain collaboration

SAI Global

Monday, 20 January, 2020

Reducing food recalls through supply chain collaboration

Food recalls in Australia have increased, with 106 recalls taking place in 2018–19 compared with 81 in 2017–18. SAI Global, a provider of food safety certification and training, believes that weak supply chain management is a primary cause of product recalls and is urging food manufacturers and retailers to invoke food safety management systems to reduce supply chain risks.

“Food has never been a more global, fast-moving and complex market than it is today. When a food crosses borders of any kind, the familiar health and safety risks are joined by several others, including intentional and inadvertent adulteration, product mislabelling, substitution, spoilage due to any unforeseen circumstance, damage while in transit, and unpredictable politics and shifts in regulations,” said Maidie Wood, food safety spokesperson at SAI Global.

In order to reduce product recalls, food manufacturers must continually rethink their controls, monitor their indirect suppliers and implement key performance indicators to manage downstream supply risks. SAI Global has revealed six ways food businesses can reduce food safety risks in the supply chain.

  1. Food businesses must listen to the consumer, as consumers demand high ethical standards when it comes to information about provenance, nutrition and allergens in the foods they consume. With organisations increasingly held accountable for the poor ethical activities of first-, second-, third- and fourth-tier suppliers, catering to consumers’ needs is critical to success.
  2. Manufacturers can also use technology to build greater transparency. As technology connects food manufacturers and retailers to an increasing number of suppliers, it is essential that they are aware of the risks. Technologies such as sensors to detect temperature changes and smart packaging that changes colour based on expiry dates could give manufacturers more control over potential risks.
  3. Setting key performance indicators for suppliers could also reduce product recalls. Tracking performance and awarding high-performing suppliers for providing high-quality products, on-time delivery and excellent service could reduce product recalls. Manufacturers must ensure that these indicators are right for the early identification of risk and are set throughout the supply chain.
  4. While it can be challenging to monitor the end-to-end supply chain, monitoring indirect suppliers also reduces the risk of product recalls. While it can be an extensive and expensive process, decisions regarding who to target and how far to go depend on the relative risks associated with the ingredients or products being sourced, such as country of origin.
  5. A supplier diversity management program involves the creation of a diverse supply chain to secure the inclusion of different groups. As food companies move from the ‘preferred supplier’ model to a ‘multisupplier’ model, such a program could introduce innovative through new products, services and solutions, and allow companies to explore opportunities for business expansion. For example, if a product has been damaged or destroyed by bushfire, a supplier diversity program could allow manufacturers to source a product from an alternative supplier.
  6. Food businesses can also reduce food safety risks in the supply chain by getting food safety training and certification. In-depth food safety supervisor training, such as HACCP certification, could allow food manufacturers and retailers to meet informationally recognised food safety standards such as SQF, FSSC, ISO 22000, BRCGS and IFS, which all incorporate HACCP. This also shows consumers that food companies have a robust food safety management system in place. These standards also allow businesses to improve processes, increase efficiencies and communicate with their partners about risks in the supply chain.

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