In managing any crisis situation, it is critical that all available resources be brought to bear. This is particularly true in the food industry, where a product recall may be addressing an eminent threat to human health. For greatest efficacy, a recall management plan must enable a rapid and comprehensive response; however, cobbling together such a plan has become increasingly burdensome as food products—and the sources of those products—continue to diversify. These are the drivers behind the advent of the Rapid Recall Exchange (RRE).
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Explore this issueOctober/November 2012
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Launched in late 2009, the RRE—developed by the Food Marketing Institute and GS1 US and supported by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Grocers Association—is an online service that is designed to accelerate food product recalls and withdrawals. The functionality of the service is a direct result of input from industry stakeholders.
“Starting around 2007, our members started asking that we step up our involvement as it relates to recalls,” said Brian Lynch, senior director of business and industry development at GMA. To gain a greater understanding of the particular nature of their member’s concerns, the GMA conducted a number of surveys, with responses from retailers and manufacturers alike, resulting in a consensus of the problem. “They specifically asked for our help in streamlining and making the recall process more efficient,” said Lynch.
GMA members reported that the increasingly complex supply chain was needlessly draining time and money. In 2009, for example, in testimony before the House Small Business Subcommittee on Regulations and Healthcare, Mike Ambrosio, vice president of quality assurance for the Wakefern Food Corp., said that in the last fiscal year prior to his testimony, Wakefern experienced 214 recalls, including 27 Class 1 recalls and 43 pharmacy recalls, encompassing 218 stock-keeping units (UPC codes). “The process took an average of 10 hours per product recalled,” he said, racking up a grand total of 2,140 expensive hours of labor.
The Birth of the Rapid Recall Exchange
In brief, the RRE is a web-based portal for the exchange of information between food retailers and manufacturers that is designed to elicit specific, comprehensive information from a supplier regarding a given product for recall—information that is then rapidly disseminated to any and all recall stakeholders. Communication between stakeholders is standardized, and the receipt of information is verifiable.