How To Reduce Food Recalls Outside Of Food Traceability

Everyday foods like cantaloupe and salad kits were recently contaminated with salmonella and listeria. When such incidents occur, people want to know what happened, when, and how widespread the contamination is.

The public wants to know what protocols will be implemented to ensure it doesn’t happen again. And rightfully so.

Consumers expect food manufacturers to promptly handle and prevent recalls, and they lean heavily on prevention. Too often, customers have heard of a food recall and wondered why the issue wasn’t caught before the product hit the shelf.

Food traceability works to track down the source of contamination, but that course of action is reactive. To diminish food recalls and risks, food manufacturers are taking a more proactive and preventive approach.


Food manufacturers aren’t relying on food traceability alone. They're taking advantage of new technology and software and incorporating it into the industry’s best practices. To go a step further, they’re also going behind themselves to double-check. 

Let’s look at how food manufacturers reduce food recalls outside of food traceability.

How To Reduce Food Recalls In Food Manufacturing

Cleaning & Sanitation

One of the most tried and true ways of limiting potential health concerns and unreported allergens is through cleaning and sanitation. Detailed sanitation procedures minimize food-related health risks and keep the processing plant compliant.

Clean-in-place (CIP) equipment isn’t new and has been in use for a while now. However, the addition of sensors and software is improving CIP systems. The sensor-enabled devices make cleaning machinery, piping, and tanks more precise and efficient.

There’s no need to adjust the process or collect data manually. You have access to real-time process information that can be used to optimize each cleaning cycle and notify the operator of possible mechanical issues. 

A Resourceful Supplier Database

We say resourceful here because manufacturers want a supplier database with more than their material disclosures, source of ingredients, and delivery schedule. Food processing plants, again, look toward data-driven technology to enhance supplier risk assessments.

Manufacturers are utilising software to generate supplier scorecards. The software takes the collected data to form a risk rating based on suppliers’ performance and the quality of ingredients, materials, and production. 

The report creates a supplier scorecard that provides an informed view of which suppliers are reliable, consistent, and operate at a low-risk rating. You’d usually find this in a yearly supplier audit, but you don’t have to wait that long when using the scorecard method.

You can get these results at any time.

Preventive Maintenance

Reactive maintenance isn’t enough to prevent food recalls. Food manufacturers have already moved toward preventative maintenance, and are finding areas for improvement. 

Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems are being combined with Asset Performance Management (APM) systems. The EAM system uses its sensors and software to discover the real-time condition of the equipment or a particular part of the machine. The data informs the operator of the machine’s decline, and when the machine is predicted to fail.

The APM system reviews the machine’s data history and the report from the EAM system. APM configures a threshold rate that proactively examines the lower and upper limits of the machine’s tolerance. The system provides prescriptive maintenance activities and sets alerts for when the equipment nears its threshold.

Any unprocessed food can be rerouted to another machine, and ultimately avoid contact with faulty equipment.

Validation Calls For A Double-Check 

Validation is how you can double-check that the quality and safety of food products are at their highest. It’s also an aspect that proves quality assurance isn’t just for the finished product.

Quality assurance personnel at various stages throughout the manufacturing process increase the chances of finding food contaminants, hazards, and risks before the item ever leaves the factory. 

It’s easy to fall into a routine, but this mindset can be dangerous in food processing. Things change, and the industry has to stay up-to-date constantly. Validating manufacturing procedures, processes, and protocols to certify their effectiveness assures the food plant won’t fall into that trap.

To ensure that doesn’t happen, manufacturers conduct “Recall Drills” to validate their recall strategy. It’s a great way to see how your plant reacts to a recall and if the plan is robust enough. Goals are set, and they discover if all the moving parts work smoothly together.

The idea of a “drill” can be applied to other strategies and processes. There’s no need to wait for an audit or something to go wrong. Procedures and protocols that are adjusted and fine-tuned lower the chances of food risks. 

We have a long way to go before food manufacturing reaches the point of zero recalls. Combined with food traceability, these techniques and strategies can tremendously aid in reducing them.

Quality assurance and maintenance are only two of the positions mentioned above, but there’s a whole cast working behind the scenes to make this happen. If you have skills and certifications in food health & safety, food safety regulation, or other related expertise, there are numerous food manufacturing careers available. 

                                                        Best Food Safety Certifications

Stay in touch with food manufacturers looking for people like you on QTalent’s platform. Setting up a personalized profile only takes a few moments. After that, job opportunities from the top food manufacturers in Canada are a few clicks away. 

Don’t wait too long; the next step in your career could be soon. Register and sign up today!

Brittany Brooks


Brittany Brooks has worked in Human Resources as an HR specialist and manager for 10 years. After that time, she decided to use her powers for the good of the workplace. She uses her first-hand experiences in her writing to give employees and business owners an honest look into what’s happening at work.

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