Food Safety: All about Recalls & Outbreaks

Food Safety: All about Recalls & Outbreaks

How To Avoid Food Recalls and Contamination?

If you ask agriculturalists and agricultural traders about their top 3 broodings, most, if not all, will name transporting, stocking, and shelving perishable items. Due to contamination, unsuitable storage, and other supply chain factors, about 1.3 bn tons of food goes to waste every year; it is ironic how despite all the stringent food norms and all the awareness about food safety management, food recalls still stand as one of the significant causes of concern.

Recalls can be caused by unsuitable storage, contamination, fungal infestation, or sometimes, deliberate sabotage. A food recall can set a company back by millions of dollars a year and significantly hurt brand reputation.

What is Food Recall and what happens when it is identified?

Food Recall is a term when government agencies or the food producers take products off from shelves or the market as they discover allergens not mentioned explicitly on the product label, foreign objects such as metals or glass, organisms such as bacteria and so on; which can potentially contaminate the products and make consumers fall ill. As a precautionary measure and to prevent more people from getting sick, the officials take strict actions to find the origin of the product as soon as an outbreak is detected. The public is also alarmed of such illness to make sure less or no harm is faced by them.

The news is also publicly posted on government websites, food retailers are intimated and the supply chain of the recalled food is halted. Such news is only made public after it has been vetted by officials. Once done, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also alerted and an investigation is ordered. There are different agencies responsible for safeguarding different segments of the food supply chain.

Food Safety: All about Recalls & Outbreaks

Purchased the recalled food? Here’s what to do

A. If you’re a Consumer

When you have found about the possible contamination or illness about a food that has been recalled, it is highly recommended to

  • Disinfect your kitchen and surfaces

  • Disinfect all appliances include microwave and refrigerator

  • Throw it out of the house, if the food is cooked

  • Do not consume it yourself or let anyone else to

  • Rinse the dishes and cookware with a sanitizing solution

  • Air-dry the cookware and dishes

In case, an unknown food allergen is discovered, it is best to not consume it and instead discard or return the item if it is not served or cooked.

B. If you’re a Food Producer/Manufacturer or a Retailer

There are numerous ways to keep the food devoid of spoilage or contamination and avoid food recall.

Food Safety: All about Recalls & Outbreaks

Traceability to Rescue

Traceability helps prevent recalls and also helps the brand build trust among its customers. Knowing which products are affected will ensure that the spread is halted as soon as contamination or outbreak is identified. Traceability reduces effort, helps in proper monitoring of the product during its complete value-chain process and eliminates errors to a large extent.

Using the Right Equipment

Non-absorbent materials are known to reduce the risk of contamination. Establishing strict cleaning protocols to maintain proper hygiene is of paramount importance. Employees should also be educated and trained to follow the best food safety practices and equipped to identify and solve issues at the nascent stages. They should ensure that all norms and procedures are followed with utmost precision.

Set up a perusal routine

One of the best ways to avoid contamination is spoilage, and eventually, food recall is to do systematic scrutiny as often as possible. If left unchecked, there can be microbes growth, which could ruin the entire stock and result in food spoilage and wastage.

Begin with a daily or weekly check of the quality and health of stock; you can then move on to crisscross tangential factors such as warehouse temperature, inventory equipment maintenance logs, employee safety, facility sanitation, security, employee awareness, to name a few.

Systematic risk assessment of perils before choosing a storage space

A storage place appropriate to the goods can benefit in numerous ways. A total storage space appraisal is imperative when it comes to storing food. The assessment must include a complete check of all the location’s weaknesses and any manual tampering probability. Check also for the availability of the cold storage facility and its temperature ranges; you must also check whether there is enough space to keep the old, previous stock and the fresh stock separately.

You must also enquire and know before storing any food about the number of people who have access to the facility. A complete risk assessment shall also include the storage and the staff’s security levels and operational mandates.

Invest in warehouse management software

To avoid food recalls due to deterioration, contamination, transportation delays, mishandling, or mismanagement of food supplies, you must always invest in management software that keeps track of the stocks right from the very root level, all the way to shelves. Central management software should hold quality control, stocking or inventory management, and time management capabilities.

Some advanced software may even track supplies’ weight and keep a stern eye on storage temperature to evade spoilage. Complete warehouse management will streamline the supply chain records and make it efficient, dynamic, and productive.

Segregation of goods

Try as much you can, but regrettably, there will always be some food spoilage. Hence, while deciding on storage space, you must ensure enough space to segregate old stock and new stock. You don’t want the microbes from your old stock to transfer to the new, fresh one.


Food recalls can be bad. It may cost a company millions of dollars. The key to effective food management and avoiding food recall can be successfully done by ensuring rigorous warehousing or storage norms. Storage and spoilage are directly linked and can affect the food supply chain considerably. Consequently, with the utmost care, food stored right will be consumable for a long time, helping the company circumvent food recalls due to spoilage or any other foreign adulteration or sabotage.

SourceTrace's software solutions have been deployed across 32 countries and 4 continents already. We are on a mission to make agriculture and food systems more sustainable. Get in touch and we will extend our expertise and commitment to you.

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About SourceTrace

SourceTrace is a SaaS (Software As A Service) company that focuses on sustainable agriculture and empowerment of farmers.

SourceTrace's advanced technology platform DATAGREEN provides comprehensive solutions to manage all aspects of the agricultural value chain.


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