5 Steps to Manage a Food Safety Crisis Traceability, Recalls and Public Relations
Part 1 - Preparation
Public recalls of food products due to food safety concerns are comparatively rare in India, but with the growing capability of the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)and with the development of branded food products they will soon become commonplace as a tool to protect customers when something goes wrong with a food production process.
Even the most diligent of food businesses can have a problem that only comes to light after the products have been dispatched. The problem may sometimes be due to the actions of ingredient suppliers who inform you of an issue after you’ve already dispatched your products, or the breakdown of sterilisation equipment that is only detected during a routine audit or even a mistake in the labelling of allergens or ingredients that is only noticed when the product is on the shelves.
So if you have invested years and crores of Rupees in the marketing and promotion of a brand, it pays to know what to do when your Production Manager says to you “I think we may have problem” or your bakery assistant says “anyone seem my knife?”.
But first you need to ensure that you have the basic processes in place to enable you to manage any food safety crisis.
You will be unable to react fast enough to satisfy the expectations of your customers unless you have the building blocks of a food safety management system in place. These need not be complex or sophisticated systems and often the simplest processes are the best.
1. Communication Plan – who has the accountability for food safety? Who is authorised to instigate a recall process? Do you have all the out-of-hours contact numbers for key people? Can you set up a conference call at short notice?
2. Monitoring System – regular audits of your premises, equipment, processes and suppliers are needed so you can spot when something is going wrong
3. Traceability System – the more accurately you can identify an defective batch of products the more you can limit the risk with minimal impact on production. Set up simple records that can link ingredients and critical preparation processes (such as baking) to specific batches. Label your raw materials and final products so you can trace problems back to the source. Start with a simple system based on day of production then refine it down to shifts or even batches as your experience grows.
for more information about Food Traceability checkout our earlier post on Tracing the Foodsteps