BRC Global Standards, Salsa Food Standards amongst others require annual product recall tests to be completed.
How do you do this…
- Warn a friendly customer who wouldn’t panic when seeing an email subject bar with the word ‘Product Recall’.
- Email them details about a made-up problem about a recent delivery
- Ask them to respond reporting what has been done with the batch of product from the delivery.
But… I’ve often been left wondering is this enough? Does this leave a company prepared for an actual product issue which could lead to a real product withdrawal or recall?
During a recent annual food safety review of a client’s system, we ran a dummy product recall as part of the test on their traceability procedures, based on the very good BRC guidelines for Product Recall and Withdrawal. The exercise proved the systems in place worked efficiently, but…
We decided to take it one step further and this is what we did…
Rather than then just complete the normal exchange of emails with the friendly customer, we arranged with the site’s quality manager a simulated complaint that could lead to a product recall.
Using a selected product and production date, 3 customer deliveries, fictitious sickness issue and a new accent we were set. The test was kept a secret and at the agreed times we rung into the site pretending to be the selected customers complaining about potential customer sickness issues. We also emailed a complaint via the sites contact pages.
The sites management responded well, forming the product recall team and the test lead to a detailed discussion about the scale of the potential issue, what action to take, what responses were to be made and the product recall log, advertisement notices etc were completed.
The conclusion of the test was that…
- Directors themselves were actually tested
- Systems were properly followed with any issues in the procedures being highlighted.
- The product recall team have confidence in the system and their abilities, helping them be more prepared in the event of an actual event happening.
Going that one step further was certainly worth the extra time and effort.
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Full product recall listings available at https://www.food.gov.uk/news-alerts)