World Food Safety Day is observed every year on June 7 to draw attention and inspire action to prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks. This year I wanted to explore allergens, which have been a large focus for the agri-food industry and a key element of my career so far since the implementation of the Food Information Regulations and the additional requirements of Natasha’s law, which came into force in 2021. For very good reason as the potential risks are huge, and we have seen already too many avoidable tragedies in the sector.
While I think companies have worked hard on processes and procedures to limit occurrences just by looking at FSA alerts, we can see that it is still a major problem.
Now, while this provides safety risks to the consumer, there are other elements to consider as a result of these recalls.
As you may have seen recently here at Muddy Boots we have been exploring and discussing all elements of waste in the food industry. Be it actual food waste, of which one-third is lost/wasted globally or other areas of waste such as time in data duplication and spending via indirect supply chains, adding unnecessary cost. Which makes me ask the question, what waste is involved in these recalls?
As highlighted in the above table 47% of recalls this year are due to allergens. This ranges from allergens being undeclared to being in the wrong language. Given that the average cost of a key product is approximately £38k, it is hard to conceive that for such an important element of food safety, small errors can lead to such high costs. Not only does this incur waste through lost revenue, but, also in the time it takes to produce and manage the recall and finally the discarded food.
Human error will always exist even in the most robust processes therefore unless this activity is replaced with a digitised solution recalls of this nature will still occur. Digitisation allows for a wider review of labels and quicker decisions made, by more people possible. Future developments will most likely see AI automatically flagging labels that are not aligned to the product needs and reduce this risk of a recall earlier.
Muddy Boots’ Greenlight Quality Management provides customers with a label review capability, offering a digitised solution for checking labels and mitigating risk in your business. If you would like more information on how Greenlight Quality Management can help your business, please get in touch with myself or a member of the team for a demonstration or to discuss your needs.
References - https://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Article/2017/12/22/Food-and-drink-recalls-rise-sparked-by-cost-cutting; https://www.food.gov.uk/news-alerts/search/alerts