By Ben DiPietro | July 31, 2015
Increased federal regulations and the globalization of the food supply chain has helped contribute to nearly doubling the number of food recalls in the U.S. since 2002, a report released this month said. So what can companies do to mitigate the risks that come with making foods that use ingredients from around the globe? Each recall costs the affected company more than $10 million, not to mention the cost that comes with a damaged reputation, the report from insurer Swiss Re said. Recent cases involving recalls of noodle products by Nestle India and of Mexico-grown cilantro from the shelves of Wal-Mart and Kroger stores show the need for better controls and transparency in the system, said Mickey North Rizza, vice president of strategic services at supply chain management firm BravoSolution.
The more imports, the more work the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration have to check foods at the point of entry, said Ms. Rizza. “Have we increased the amount of inspectors or increased the amount of companies that the government might outsource to to do inspections?” she asked. “How do we put controls in place to make them transparent and traceable enough to find out if there is an issue?”
It’s not a question of adding new rules, she said, as rules passed in the U.S. don’t necessarily mean other countries will adhere to them—although better enforcement of existing regulations certainly would help, she said. In the meantime, companies are going directly to their growers, packers and the companies that move their products and telling them they will be held accountable. “We need more audits and testing and really need a better understanding of what suppliers are bringing into the marketplace. That costs a lot of money and someone has to pay for that,” said Ms. Rizza. “Companies should try to work with manufacturers or groups that fit the standards required by us—and not in all cases does that happen. Companies need to hold suppliers to a high standard.”