Given the fact that physical contaminants still comprise a significant portion of expensive and headline-making recalls, a strong quality assurance program with food safety interventions in place can help protect products and brands in many ways. Deployed at key points in production, x-ray inspection systems remove hazards before they become a liability and also provide much-needed traceability. In the event of a recall, those same systems can be used to detect foreign contamination in tainted products and batches and thereby limit the scope of the problem.
If hindsight is 20/20, it takes true vision to prevent costly problems in the first place. That’s especially true when it comes to the impact and financial implications of product recalls, which can soar into the millions. As recent media headlines and public notices show, such recalls are still problematic in the food and beverage industry. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, foreign contamination is the leading cause of food recalls. .
Beyond damage to a brand, the revelation of hazards in consumable products can erode general confidence in food production. Consumers hear about bits of plastic pieces or shards of metal in foods ranging from fresh meat to cookie dough, and it causes them to second guess the quality and safety of food and beverages. Conversely, manufacturers who demonstrate a commitment to finding and removing hazards before they cause recalls can build trust among consumers.
Here are some important measures to put in place to prevent recalls and deliver on quality assurance:
A Greater Focus on and Adherence to HACCP Principles.
A good quality management system is designed around points of vulnerability that are central to a strong HACCP program. Those same points of vulnerability are areas in which foreign contamination can be introduced and consequently lead to product recalls. By deploying inspection systems at critical control points, from raw materials to in-line processes to packaged products, manufacturers can align with HACCP principles and help keep products free from hazards and costly recalls.
Strong Traceability Programs that Demonstrate a Commitment to Quality and Safety.
The ability to track and trace products throughout the process allows a manufacturer to identify potentially tainted items and also help limit the scope of a recall to certain products and batches. Advanced inspection systems equipped with traceability software, like Eagle TraceServer™, provide a snapshot of products at various points in time, which is valuable information in the event of a question or problem. In addition to protecting brands from a food safety risk, traceability tools allow manufacturers to maintain quality standards by tracking things like missing components or over/under filling.
Better Defined and Executed Quality Assurance Processes.
The need to keep tabs on product quality during and potentially beyond the production line is imperative. A poor-quality assurance program can leave a manufacturer open to recalls if such a system isn’t set up to effectively monitor products, provide corrective actions or generate reports on traceability. A strong quality assurance program that leverages advanced inspection technologies, has safeguards in place for better detection, prevention and tracking.
With more regulatory actions coming down the pike, manufacturers need to have their quality control processes, HACCP systems and traceability programs integrated and shored up to stay compliant as they also strive to keep customers and consumers safe and satisfied. There’s no room for errors.
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