Research reveals nearly 20% of food and drink businesses lack product recall plans

A survey of food and drink businesses across the UK by leading industry law firm Roythornes, has revealed that almost a fifth of companies in the sector are operating without a product recall plan.

Members of the Fresh Produce Consortium, The Food and Drink Forum, the British Frozen Food Federation, the Artisan Food Trail and Tastes of Anglia were asked about their product recall policies and plans.

The results show that nearly a fifth of respondents (18.5%) didn’t have any product recall procedures in place, and 60% do not include product recalls in their contractual agreements with suppliers.

In addition, 20% of participants that confirmed a product recall plan was in place, stated that they do not test the plan with trial recalls. 

Peter Bennett, head of the food and drink team at Roythornes, said: “The growing complexity of regulation and labelling requirements combined with the recent ‘scandals’ and incidents around food contamination has resulted in an increased sensitivity to food and drink product recalls.

“While the food and drink sector has, on the whole, always been concerned with safety and its reputation, it needs to evolve rapidly to develop comprehensive recall plans in light of heightened media interest in recent years.

He added: “It is promising that over 80% of business now have a plan in place, but the fact that so few test their plan or have media relations procedures in place means there is some way to go before the industry can say it has effectively dealt with this issue.”

The research indicates that 73% of food and drink manufacturers and producers do not have media and communications protocols in place should a recall be required. 

Mr Bennett continued: “Whether the company is big or small, policies and procedures need to be in place to ensure that the recall process runs as smoothly as possible, with the overall aim of protecting the consumer whilst preventing damage to the company name and reputation.”

A full version of the research can be downloaded here.