Manage food product recalls safely with these 5 steps
Recalls have been known to occur across a range of food groups from perishable fruits and vegetables to items with a longer shelf life such as pesto, or canned foods. In 2019, more than 80 food products were recalled due to the risks associated with contamination from bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella, the inaccuracy of labelling and ingredients or foreign matter found in food.
A number of leading regulatory organisations such as Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and enforcement agencies operate vigilantly to spread the word about product recalls to protect members of the public. Owners of businesses that are responsible for the serving of food are also responsible for maintaining an awareness of the safety of their produce and the food they serve.
Owners of businesses that are responsible for the serving of food can manage food recalls more safely and effectively by taking the following steps:
Learn about food recalls as they happen
Whilst suppliers are required to notify businesses that are responsible for the serving of food about any recalls immediately, lapses and delays in communication do occur, putting the public at risk. In the time it takes to communicate a food recall, chefs and kitchen staff could be preparing unsafe food. Chefs and owners of businesses that are responsible for the serving of food can receive notifications and information on food recalls through the FSANZ to minimise the risk of serving potentially contaminated or unsafe food.
Owners of hospitality chains operating across several locations may wish to set up software to disseminate information about food and product recalls and allow for the product that is the subject of a recall to be traced within the supply chain.
Implement the food product recall procedure
· Firstly, chefs and owners of businesses that are responsible for the serving of food should communicate information about the recall to all staff members if the product is in stock or has been used to prepare food recently.
· After identifying the food that is subject to a recall, all of the relevant stock should be removed from inventory and put in a secure location away from other foods, utensils, crockery and equipment.
· Label the compromised food with the appropriate food labels so that it is easily identifiable and alert staff that they should not place this back into inventory or use it to prepare meals. Wear disposable gloves to reduce the risk of further contamination.
· Refer back to the information from the vendor or distributor and dispose of the food or isolate it accordingly, again wearing disposable gloves as a safety precaution. Any questions should be communicated with the vendor or distributor as soon as possible.
· File away all paperwork concerning the recall including invoices, delivery sales and pictures of the product as well as information on isolation and disposal. These can be used to receive financial compensation from the vendor or in the event of food poisoning or an allergic reaction from a patron. Place food safety posters around the kitchen area to remind staff of what to do should the situation arise again.
Communicate with patrons
Keeping customers or patrons up to date with recalled products can help to minimise any reputational risk to a business. Tell all staff members that the recalled food has been isolated or disposed of and train front-of-house staff to relay specific information about any potentially affected menu items.
Consumers are increasingly aware of product recalls thanks to increasing accessibility to the relevant channels distributing such information. Inform any patrons that the compromised menu item has been removed from the menu until the establishment is sure that the ingredients are safe to eat again. Where similar ingredients to the recalled product are used in menu items, businesses who are responsible for the serving of food may wish to inform customers that they are aware of the recall and this product is not used to prepare the meal.
Fildes Food Safety offers a range of commercial kitchen supplies that can be implemented as part of a safe food recall management procedure including food labels, food safety posters and disposable gloves. Visit our website to place an order or get in touch with your Fildes Food Safety representative.