Product Contamination Gives Manufacturers Food for Thought

Cow & Gate and Tesco have already this year been at the centre of a food safety scare which necessitated the voluntary recall of 15 varieties of baby food within the 7+ month range. Could the same sort of scenario happen in your food-manufacturing business and would you have the financial resources to survive a product recall?

200g jars of baby food choices such as Creamy Cauliflower Cheese, Banana Crumble and Spaghetti Bolognese have been recalled by the two big brands, due to the manufacturer believing that the products may have been tampered with.

This is by no means the only such product recall by food manufacturers in recent months. Supermarket Booths had to recall its traditional coleslaw product in September 2019, due to plastic particles having been found in some tubs.  Plastic was also found in Birds Eye Crispy Nuggets in Golden Wholegrain, whilst turkey giant, Bernard Matthews had to bring back in its Turkey Dinosaurs in October 2019, after metal was found to have contaminated some packs.

All of these big names naturally have HACCPs procedures in place but things can still go awry. It is sometimes difficult for scanning systems to detect small particles of plastic. Some older detection systems are not now up to the job of identifying metals or plastics within food on the production line. Sometimes, the equipment is not used correctly or calibrated in the correct way. Whilst new inline vision systems like DynaCQ are now available, many food manufacturers are still relying on less intuitive equipment.

A product recall can be a costly logistical exercise and rack up further costs when getting the news out to consumers. Contaminated stock may well need to be replaced, requiring another production run and the scrapping of the food on which costs have already been incurred. It may not be easy to immediately run another batch through the production process, if other foods for other customers need to be manufactured to a particular deadline. 

Depending on what has occurred, there could also be business interruption and production line downtime.  Reputational damage may also take its toll on the business and crisis management and positive PR may be required, to try to redress the damage to the company’s public image.

All of these scenarios need to be considered by food manufacturers, who would be advised to have insurance protection in place for product recalls, business interruption and, of course, public liability insurance, in case contaminated food results in a health issue.  If you need to discuss these types of insurance requirement, please contact Gauntlet on 0113 244 8686.