As supply chains get broader, and companies are increasing the number of markets they export to, product recalls have become incredibly complex and costly exercises. Consumers reporting allergic reactions to packaged foods due to undeclared allergens are on the rise, fuelling an increase in the number of food recalls across Australia.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), says that between January in 2009 and December last year, they coordinated 675 recalls. Most recalls have been due to undeclared allergens and microbial contamination.
During the last 10 years, the most common food type to be recalled due to undeclared allergens is processed food. Other food types involved in undeclared allergen recalls include cereals, seafood, meat and poultry, nuts and sauces and other condiments.
The $131 billion food and beverage sectors are rife with complexities across their vast supply chains, which frequently cross borders and continents and involve numerous variables including personnel and environmental conditions. These two factors alone raise the risk of food firms falling prey to a product recall.
The primary focus of food recalls is to quarantine and remove affected products from shelves, so people don’t get sick or die. Expenses are also incurred by retailers or manufacturers from refunds; business interruption, loss of contracts, third-party liability and reputational damage when a product is recalled.