Maintaining Your Brand Post Recall

June 20, 2023

The recall process in the food manufacturing industry is a highly expensive one, averaging more than $10 million in costs to cover activities such as communicating the recall across the supply chain, retrieving and handling the recalled product, investigating the event, and implementing corrective actions to prevent reoccurrence. Of course, this average doesn’t address the possibility of litigation costs, decreased sales, reputational damage, or brand crisis management, which can add up to millions more. Because the public has become much more informed and aware of food safety events, a single breach could result in catastrophic losses to your brand.

As you take urgent steps to protect your brand in the wake of a recall, there should be a concurrent effort to protect consumers and manage the recall crisis.

Partner with a team of trained investigators, advisers, and attorneys with relevant experience in food recall management. They will be equipped to help you identify critical elements such as the following:

  • Scope or scale of the recall, assessing its depth and the level in the distribution chain to which a recall notification must be given.
  • Level of severity, ascertaining what level of risk, if any, there is to consumer health and safety. Recalls are designated into classifications based on public health risk.
  • What notifications or statements should be made, from press releases to consumer notification letters.

Most food companies have recall insurance to protect their assets if a recall takes place. Are you fully informed on what it means to work through a recall with your underwriter or how a recall affects your premiums? Is there a possibility of losing your insurance? It’s crucial to understand how your insurance is affected by a recall and what is contractually covered under your plan.

A Food Safety Magazine article explains: “…many insurance claims can result in litigation. To avoid a lengthy coverage dispute with insurers and to ensure maximum coverage for their losses, insureds in the food industry should carefully consider the specific provisions in their policies and the relevant case law and also consult knowledgeable counsel as soon as they become aware of a potential claim.”

In the course of your brand’s recovery from any damaging consequences, it’s vital to take every precaution to prevent a recurrence. Focus on the following best practices to help overcome the food safety problems that can lead to brand-injuring recalls:

Implement an FSMA Preventive Control Food Safety Plan
Implementing the preventive controls from the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), including recall plans and a prerequisite program to meet the evolving demands of compliance, and establishing proactive food safety plans should be the first step in preventing a recall.

Update Your HARPC Plan
An up-to-date Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) plan is the foundation of your food safety plan to prevent recalls. If your facility is following an inadequate one, you’re not in a good position to proactively address food safety hazards along with potential risks that could lead to a devastating recall.

Examine Your Compliance Obligations
With the support of an internal compliance team or outside experts, you’ll need to assemble all relevant resources, including documentation on FSMA mandates and related government regulations, industry practices, legal liabilities, geographical and market considerations, and operational frameworks.

Communicate Well and Often
Early and consistent communication with the public should be a high priority. Along with your internal food safety data, it’s important to get control of your message and your communication channels. It’s better to release information on your own terms than to let news outlets speculate and cause greater damage to your brand.

Properly Train All Employees
Preparing your facility to prevent food safety incidents that lead to recalls requires a strong plan for employee training. With proper education and training, proactively preventing the threat of a recall is a shared responsibility with more successful outcomes. Every member of your organization has a role in keeping food safe.

Utilize Food Safety Software for Organization-Wide Transparency
The complexity of your organization and its food safety needs makes it essential to foster powerful communication throughout the company, as well as robust visibility for all members of the team. Leveraging food safety software will enable your team to communicate, visualize, and take action.

Document Your Efforts
From the history and results of testing points to the corrective actions applied to prevent problems from reoccurring, it is mandatory to have a dynamic documentation process in place. Food safety cannot truly be achieved without standardized, documented, shareable, and automated processes to safeguard against contamination and the onset of foodborne illness.

Automate Reporting
Manual reporting systems are labor-intensive webs of manual spreadsheets and paper trails which inevitably lead to gaps in communication. A software solution that keeps all of your records digitally stored and available in one centralized database can be easily accessed to compile automated reports that provide valuable insight to various teams.

Understanding the best plan of action to repair your brand in the event of a recall is undeniably critical. Even more important, however, is proactively addressing the factors that lead to devastating recalls in the first place—and enacting effective prevention processes.

Want to learn how you can quantify the return on investment (ROI) of a digital data solution for your food safety data? Check out our white paper, “Food Safety Digitization and Automation Delivers Business ROI.”


Category: Consumer Goods, Dietary Supplements, Food & Beverage, Pharmaceutical & Biotech, Microbiology, Pathogens, Environmental Monitoring