Industry speeds up system to recall tainted food

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Johannesburg - The Consumer Goods Council of SA (CGCSA) has persuaded retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers of goods and food to use an express recall system that will reduce product recall time.

The express recall system, which was introduced by CGCSA’s food safety initiative (FSI) division last year, allows companies to share critical information with trading partners regarding product recalls.

FSI food technologist Thabile Mosadi said the new system would help reduce the recall notification from about 14 days to two hours.

“Organisations involved would be notified within two hours of the product recall announcement, which is almost instantaneous,” she said.

It previously took about two weeks to sense and act on a recalled product, she said, adding that the whole process took 42 days to complete in the past.

“In that 42 days, one was able to retrieve only 43 percent of the product,” Mosadi said.

The express recall service is able to reach the whole supply chain. It gives details of how much of the product is in the market and other details that speed up the recall time and improve the reach.

The system’s key focus is to reduce risk for council members by ensuring that they comply with regulations. It reduces the risk of harm to consumers, with rapid and accurate communication flowing between the relevant trading partners. The system also reduces costs associated with product recalls.

CGCSA nutrition specialist Yolande van der Riet said: “The importance of health and well-being is becoming critical to shoppers who are demanding healthy products and lifestyle. To meet these demands, industry will see a marked increased in regulatory pressure to ensure that food quality improves, as well as detection technology to track and trace contaminated food and remove it from the supply chain as soon as possible.”

Mosadi said companies already had guidelines and processes in place for recalling products, but this new system allowed them to share more detailed product information.

“Most wholesalers, retailers and producers had a recall system in place which was paper based. CGCSA had guidelines but it was decided with government and industry stakeholders” to introduce a new system to speed up this process.

“People will be able to put in all the information that they possibly can on a product that is being recalled. This information would be received by relevant parties who will be able to act instantly,” she said.

Stores and warehouses will now be notified within two hours of a product recall, but will still need time to remove the products from the shelves.

“This system presents the industry with a tool that can be extremely effective to remove unsafe food from the market and that should give confidence to consumers of the industry’s commitment to food safety,” said Boitshoko Ntshabele, the director for food safety and quality assurance at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Mosadi said there were a lot of silent recalls, but these were not necessarily a risk as recalls included problems with bar codes or product labels. - Business Report


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