Content Guy's Note: On Friday, as I waded through the press coverage of the food safety controversy in which Stew Leonard's was prominently mentioned - a 25-year-old woman who went into anaphylactic shock after eating a private label cookie from the retailer that contained peanuts but was not labeled as such - I found myself wanting to know more about typical processes and best practices. And so I turned to Roger Hancock, the president/CEO of Recall InfoLink, who has spent his career working with retailers and manufacturers dealing with food safety issues.
Full disclosure - Recall InfoLink is an MNB Charter Sponsor. But I thought Roger had the exact expertise for which I was looking, and so it seemed appropriate to reach out to him.
As you watch or listen to our conversation, I would urge you to pay attention to two significant points:
Most people think of supply chains as being focused products, and how they get from one place to another. But Roger makes the critical point that information has its own supply chain, and that it requires the same vigilance and due diligence as more traditional supply chain issues.
This is more common than you may think - during the third quarter of 2023, there were more than 50 cases of products with undeclared allergens. While these situations do not usually result in a customers' death, they could - and the industry deserves a system that is far more efficient and effective if it expects to retain the trust of its shoppers.
If you'd like to listen to this conversation as an audio podcast, click and download below.
- KC's View:
I want to come back to something we discussed in this conversation and underline it for emphasis.
While there are a considerable number of rules and regulations in the food safety arena, I think it is time - in fact, way past time - to toughen the requirements when it comes to communications.
The rule ought to be that if a manufacturer is going to change a product's formulation, a) that communications must go to the retailer's ownership as well as the executive in charge of food safety, and b) that communication needs to be sent via registered letter with a receipt required, and c) the retailer needs to respond to that letter with a registered letter of its own, therefore certifying that the change in formulation has been noted and is being acted upon.
Does this require more paperwork? Sure. But I think it is the very least that food companies can and should do to assure the safety of their customers.