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What warehouses and distributors need to know about the 2019 chicken recall

Large food safety recalls can have a significant impact throughout the entire food supply chain, from the growers and food companies through the grocers, all the way to the end consumer. Researchers estimate that food safety incidents cost companies in the United States more than $7 billion every year, according to a report published by the National Institutes of Health.

With high costs associated with food safety recalls and an increase in the number of recalls over the last decade, warehouses and distribution centers are looking for ways to protect themselves from the negative economic impact throughout their supply chains.

2 million pounds of poultry recalled

Just this year, Simmons Prepared Foods recalled more than 2 million pounds of poultry products in eight states between Oct. 21 and Nov. 4 this year, citing contamination with foreign materials such as metal. (The Simmons recall affects products with establishment numbers P-1949, P-486 or P-5837 in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma or Pennsylvania. Consumers who purchased these products are encouraged to throw them away or return them to the store.)

Food-recall costs include expenses associated with notifying consumers, removing and destroying food from shelves, and paying legal fees and damages if lawsuits arise.

Economic impact of food recalls

The USDA reports an increase in food recalls over the past decade, more than double in number from 2008 to 2018. Reasons for recalls include E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, salmonella, undeclared allergens, extraneous materials and chemical contaminations.

Number of Recalls Each Year

2008 — 54

2009 — 69

2010 — 70

2011 — 103

2012 — 82

2013 — 75

2014 — 94

2015 — 150

2016 — 122

2017 — 131

2018 — 125

Source: USDA

Why have there been more recalls in the last decade? Matt Stasiewicz, a professor in food safety at University of Illinois told Time magazine earlier this year that the reason isn’t because there are more contaminated foods. It is food companies being pre-emptive and trying to avoid expensive legal fees. Which is great damage control for the food companies, but that leaves warehouses and distribution centers scrambling to pull products off shelves and out of inventories before they hit grocers’ shelves.

Technology reduces negative impact of food recalls

Regardless of the reason for the increase in food recalls, having the right technology in place can reduce the negative economic impact of food recalls among grocers. ProCat’s Track and Trace system has a warehouse management scanning solution that allows grocers and retailers to have real-time, accurate data about the location of products throughout their distribution centers and supply chains.

The Track and Trace system isn’t used only for food recalls. It is a tool that helps food companies identify, manage and confirm locations of receivables, inventory and customer orders throughout their entire supply chain.

This type of technology is crucial for tracking at-risk products. It allows warehouses, distribution centers and grocers to locate inventory and react quickly, which reduces expenses and minimizes damage to their customers and their reputations. The Track and Trace solution uses a highly efficient hands-free bar-code scanning system that increases productivity and accuracy over traditional paper-tracing systems.

“Our customers report 10 to 20 percent increases in productivity and reduced errors when they use Track and Trace,” Steve Stomel, CEO, ProCat Distribution Technologies, said. “Plus, when something like a food product safety recall gets pushed down the supply chain, they can react swifter and with less damage.”