Suppliers Say 'Speed of Recall' Top Challenge: Survey

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - U.S.-based food companies said the speed -or lack thereof-of the current recall system is the top challenge confronting them in food safety, according to results of a recent industry conducted by RedPrairie Corp. here.

RedPrairie reported 63 percent of survey participants said their current QA and recall processes were "somewhat effective," but 39 percent said the biggest communication gap in the recall system occurs at the store-level.

RedPrairie is a technology company that markets solutions that synchronize people and products throughout the customer buying cycle to ensure goods reach the right place at the right time. It's products are used to orchestrate recalls, among other supply chain actions.

The survey also found:
- 44 percent of respondents said their products can be pulled off the shelf in a few days. Slightly over 10 percent, however, didn't have a sense of how long it would take to pull their items from store shelves, indicating a lack of visibility and control across the supply chain.
- 63 percent indicated they would like their recall technology linked to POS interfaces at stores, including the POS system's link automatically shutting off the recalled SKU at the register. This reflected respondents' biggest concern surrounding the communication gap at the store-level during recalls, said RedPrairie.

RedPrairie survey respondents registered mixed opinions on the safety of food and ingredients produced outside the U.S. More than half (52 percent) said the safety of non-U.S. produced food items was excellent, very good, or good; while 39 percent said it was not good. Another 10 percent claimed they had "no visibility" into the safety of non-U.S. food items.

Only 34 percent of companies surveyed have changed their recall processes in response to the recent rash of recalls; 32 percent said they have changed their recall technology only in the past few months.

The survey further found a wide range of technologies being used to manage and execute a recall.

"These results are consistent with what we see with many food retailers and grocers," said Tom Kozenski, RedPrairie's v.p./product strategy. "While there is work to be done to improve the management and execution of recalls in this country, the processes and technology exist to create a seamless communication flow throughout the food & beverage supply chain."
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