Recall plan for food businesses a priority

Business owners need to ensure that they are prepared for a voluntary or involuntary recall of their food product. Creating a recall plan will ensure that a company can respond in a timely and effective manner to protect both their company and consumers.

The Food Safety and Modernization Act signed in 2011 focuses on the safety of the U.S. food supply by shifting Food and Drug Administrationregulation from responding to contamination to prevention.  A food recall is a preventive measure that is taken when a product is potentially hazardous for consumers due to contamination (intentional or unintentional), inaccurate labeling of allergens or other reasons.

Prior to a recall, a Health Hazard Evaluation is performed by an FDA or U.S. Department of Agriculture appointed committee. The evaluation will determine: if disease or injuries have already resulted, if existing conditions contribute to the hazard, the degree of the hazard to population groups, the seriousness of the hazard, the likelihood of occurrence, and the consequences of the hazard.

Regardless of whether the recall is initiated by the company or mandated by regulators, companies need to ensure they are prepared to carry out such a recall. A standard operating procedure (SOP) that a company can implement prior to a recall is the development of a Recall Team.  The Recall Team, led by a Recall Coordinator, develops a Recall Plan. The Recall Plan has several strategies; a procedure to define the problem, how to obtain information, a communication plan, a product recovery method, record keeping, and a media management plan. Additionally, companies are encouraged to hold simulated recalls to test their system. This will help ensure they are ready should a recall be necessary for consumer safety.

More information can be obtained from the FDA at Guidance for Industry: Product Recalls, Including Removals and Corrections.

Through a partnership between Michigan State University Extension, the MSU Product Center, and the MSU HACCP Team, entrepreneurs are provided product and business development assistance as they work to commercialize their food product. For more information, visit the MSU Product Center website or call 517-432-8750.

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