North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Health

February 18, 2009

The facts about food and drug recalls

Health Watch By Steve Mullenix

The North Jefferson News




In recent weeks we have seen and heard a lot on the news about the peanut recalls.

Sometimes the media adds to the apprehension of the recall. Recalls are not something that a company does without due cause, as they can cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars or put the company out of business. Recalls can be due to something as simple as a labeling issue or in the case of the recent peanut recall, result in consumer deaths.



What is a recall?

A food recall includes any corrective action by a company needed to protect consumers from potentially adverse effects of a contaminated, adulterated or misbranded product.

A recall is a voluntary action, and the recall decision is made by the company management. If the company does not initiate a recall, the government agency responsible for the particular product category may request that the company do so. Recalls are conducted by the industry in cooperation with federal and state agencies.

Manufacturers strive to prevent a recall. Employing Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans are vital to preventing a recall. Even the best managed businesses can make occasional mistakes. It is important to be ready for a recall well before a problem occurs.

Management must be part of an effective recall plan and team. The company management should not rely on product liability insurance in the event of a recall. Liability insurance might cover a portion of the losses due to recall, but it will not cover the expense of product retrieval and most importantly, liability insurance will not help the company regain customer trust.

Despite the undesirable nature of a recall event, it is in the best interest of the manufacturing company to complete the recall quickly. Because the manufacturer is responsible for all of the costs involved in this process, it is critical to have a plan to cover recall expenses, to expedite the process without creating negative public opinion, and to prevent down time. When crisis hits, it is too late to work on the recall plan. Preplanning is vital to mitigate a crisis. Generally, recall events should be included in the Crisis Management and Emergency Contingency Program for a company.

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