Food recalls have become an all-too-common occurrence, increasing 400 percent between 2007 and 2009. The dramatic rise in food contamination created a global need for food traceability that can be managed with a solution that consists of barcoding software and printers for food labels.
Food products can be recalled for a wide variety of reasons—discovery of a contaminant, allergen, or mislabeling. Just recently, Alexis Wholesale of Gardena, CA, recalled about 6,210 pounds of chorizo sausage because it was incorrectly marked as having no monosodium glutamate (MSG). In 2011,
Jensen Farms of Colorado recalled its entire 2011 harvest of cantaloupes after an outbreak of listeria contamination was traced to the fruit, resulting in 18 deaths and 100 illnesses across 20 states, the third deadliest food-borne outbreak in the country.
Burch Equipment of North Carolina recently expanded its cantaloupe recall of nearly 14,000 cases that might have been contaminated with listeria.
On recent inspections of farms, FDA inspectors found violations of its egg safety rules at 40 percent of the farms it reviewed.
Contaminated tomatoes, onions, and spinach have caused nationwide concern. Meat, poultry, dairy products, pet food—you name it, and there have probably been some recalls, whether regional or national. Barcoding technology makes it easy to track the route from “farm to fork”. Using barcode software and barcode printers for food labels, everyone from growers to processors to distributors has the capacity to easily document the journey of the food they’re moving through the supply chain. The electronic data contained in barcodes serves up critical information about the foods being sold to consumers—where the food or ingredients come from, batch or lot numbers, and dates.
Barcoding is essential for doing damage control in the event of a recall. With the information contained in the barcode, the source of the problem can be quickly identified. In some instances, this means you don’t have to pull all of your products off the shelf. Sometimes, the problem is isolated to a particular batch or a certain region. Having the ability to pin down the source provides faster and less costly resolution.
The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed with the intent of creating stricter guidelines for increasing food safety throughout the supply chain. The Produce Traceability Initiative has been working for the past five years to improve track and trace methods in the produce industry. The accuracy of barcoding has proven to be a powerful element in the solution.
Throughout the food industry, the use of barcode printers for food labels generates a wealth of benefits:
• Trace the source of the problem to reduce the scope and cost of a recall
• Provide a reliable track-and-trace method for investigating possible contaminations or mislabeling of food products, which can be time critical in the event of contamination has occurred
• Manage the supply chain for foods with expiration dates, enabling better planning and decision-making
• Comply with food safety regulations and maintain the documentation necessary to demonstrate compliance activities, without having to stockpile mounds of paper records
• Maintain real-time supply chain visibility so you can trace your products anywhere in your distribution network
• Instill peace of mind in consumers that accurate data is maintained and accessible in the event of a possible food safety issue
Food recalls are not only harmful to consumers, but also to your business. The sooner you can identify, contain, and resolve the problem, the smaller your losses—in terms of dollar and brand image. If you’re in the food industry and haven’t already invested in barcoding, talk to IntelliTech International about this technology and how to choose the right printers for food labels. You can also download our eBook, The Sweet Taste of Profits.