Food supplier hopes ‘product recall drills’ will assure customers in a real crisis
In light of recent product recalls, manufacturers must be ready to respond quickly to supply chain issues to protect consumers as well as their own brand reputations.
To that end, Moore, Okla.-based Vaughan Foods has enacted a plan to host two mock recalls a year. The events begin with the company’s quality assurance department, which is notified that a mock recall is in effect, and the team has three hours to complete the process.
"We must isolate the contaminated product, have knowledge about where the product is in the supply chain, and file accurate and timely reports to the authorities," says Victor Gramillo, quality assurance manager for Vaughan Foods, a supplier of fresh vegetables, refrigerated deli salads, soups, and fruit.
Vaughn Foods decided to hold these drills after losing revenue when the tomato industry was hit by a recall in summer 2008.
No Vaughn products were tainted, but customers remained wary.
"We realized we have to minimize risk . . . and prevent serious problems from happening," Gramillo says.
"Track & trace in the process industries, such as food and beverage, is very challenging," says Karin Bursa, a VP with Logility, supplier of the software system Vaughn Foods uses for product tracking.
"Production operators and co-packers may use the same semi-finished goods to make several other finished products," Bursa says. "Jam or jelly can be sold as a finished product but also can be used for pie filling, which adds another step as well as several layers and levels to the process."
The Logility Voyager system manages alert notification for a recall by automatically contacting partners via the Internet or alerting customer relationship managers about the issue. "Since speed is of the essence during a recall, having quick access to product data, vendor information, and locations where product last resided is very important," says Bursa.