By Adam Friedlander, MS, CFS, Manager, Food Safety and Technical Services, FMI
The food industry proudly—and safely—feeds families across the nation with nutritious and wholesome items. While rare, food recalls are initiated by retailers, suppliers, and regulatory agencies to remove potentially unsafe products from the market. For the past several years, undeclared allergens resulting primarily from mislabeling have been, and continue to be, the most common cause of food recalls in the United States. Also, recalls from suspected or known pathogenic contamination (like Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocyotogenes) comprise a significant percentage of food recalls. Therefore, all entities in the food supply chain have a duty to implement rigorous food safety programs that protect public health and prevent foodborne illness.
To help protect your company from food recalls or outbreaks, FMI recommends:
- Having supplier approval programs in-place. Specifications for approving a supplier should be established prior to purchasing from a supplier and should always address food safety expectations, like allergen labeling and environmental monitoring verifications.
- Purchasing products from reputable vendors that have strong food safety management programs in-place and meet all food safety regulatory requirements—such as the Preventive Controls for Human Food, Produce Safety and Foreign Supplier Verification rules established by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act — and are certified and have annual audits from a GFSI program, such as SQF.
Collaboration is key when it comes to prevention. Recently, FMI participated in a collaborative working group hosted by STOP Foodborne Illness to help identify areas of improvement for recall execution and consumer communications from federal agencies (FDA, USDA-FSIS, CDC), state and local regulators, the food industry, consumer advocacy organizations, and public health organizations. Clearly, the food industry plays an important and proactive role to protect the food supply. Through prevention activities and collaborative efforts, the food industry strives for continuous food safety improvement.
Supplier approval programs and strategies to prevent food recalls are just a few of the many topics that will be explored at SQF Unites, which is now taking place virtually from October 26-28, 2021. To learn how you can engage with your peers on these important topics at SQF Unites, visit www.sqfi.com/sqf-conference/.
Recall and Supplier Resources:
- FMI Guidance for Retailers: Product Recalls
- FMI Recall Report: FDA Recalls (2017-2020)
- FMI Recall Report: USDA Recalls (2017-2020)
- FMI Blog: Taking Action to Advance Supply Chain Food Safety
- SQF Approved Supplier Program: Edition 9 Guidance Document
- SQF Supplier Approval & Performance Program: Tip Sheet for Food Service
- STOP Foodborne Illness Collaborative Plan to Achieve Customer-Focused Recall Modernization
- FDA Firm/Supplier Evaluation Resources for FSMA Rules
- FDA Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food: Draft Guidance for Industry
- FDA Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts
- USDA Recalls & Public Health Alerts