The implications of Emergency product withdrawals (EPWs) in the food and drink industry can be very costly for the manufacturer, both in terms of financial losses and damage done to the reputation of the brand.
In this guide we’ll show you how automation can minimise the likelihood of any errors on the packaging line and prevent product recalls.
Why do product recalls occur?
Despite popular belief, many EPWs or product recalls aren’t due to food contamination. We’ve all heard the horror stories about products being recalled because of the possible presence of bacteria or even pieces of plastic or metal, but while this food safety issue represents a significant threat to public health, it’s far from the only reason products are recalled.
In reality, some EPWs can be attributed to basic coding and labelling errors in the packaging hall.
Labelling errors on food packaging have become a major problem in recent years. Last year, US regulator the FDA reported that 174 products were recalled due to the presence of undeclared allergens, including nuts, eggs, milk and wheat.
It found that the majority of coding and labelling errors leading to product recalls were caused by printing system setup errors, as well as human errors in product packaging selection.
“Up to forty percent of recalls are due to mislabelling”
Erik Phillips, US Director of Sales & Business Development, AutoCoding Systems
How automation can help
In order to comply with the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety, a full description for each product must be developed, which includes all relevant information on food safety and the composition of the product, such as: raw materials, ingredients, allergens and recipe.
While every effort may be made to ensure the correct code and information is put on the right packaging, mistakes do happen. Luckily, an automated solution can remove the potential for human error.
Automated code assurance and packaging verification systems, such as AutoCoding, are gaining acceptance in the food and beverage industry, with over 800 global packaging lines already employing this kind of technology from AutoCoding Systems Ltd.
With an AutoCoding system, the production order data can be taken right from the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. By transposing that data directly down to the printer, it ensures an accurate coding of food product packaging.
On top of that, 1D and 2D scanner verifications can be installed on the packaging line to guarantee, from a technical perspective, that the right code is being printed on the right packaging.