Europe’s Latest Food Scandal Encourages Retailers to Enhance Food Safety

25th August 2017
From Shaun Bossons

Europe’s latest Food Scandal Encourages Retailers to Enhance Food safety

As of August 2017, authorities in the Netherlands have ordered supermarkets to pull eggs from the shelves and have temporarily closed nearly 180 farms due to a food safety concern. The recalled eggs were contaminated with a harmful insecticide[1], fipronil, a toxic anti-lice agent, which is banned from use in the production of products for human consumption. Inadequate pest control in laying hens is to blame.

When food safety scandals like this strike, both retailers and suppliers are subject to investigations, and word spreads quickly. Big or small, recalls greatly impact customer loyalty as consumers tend to remember product recalls well. In fact, 20 percent of consumers say they would not buy any products made by the affected company[2].

How can retailers protect consumers and their brands from the harsh consequences of a recall? With preparation, optimal collaboration, and technology on your side, a food safety scare like Netherlands’ egg scandal can be mitigated.

Protecting the Consumer

Recalls can easily damage a brand, resulting in lost sales, decreased consumer trust and more. Having the ability to quickly identify potentially affected products is imperative for retailers, as they are accountable for removing contaminated products and protecting consumers. It’s also important to work with suppliers you trust and agree with when it comes to food safety.

By taking care of the consumer, you also protect your brand.  Retailers can do so by taking the following steps:

  • Enhance collaboration with suppliers. Effective collaboration doesn’t occur over night – it is developed over time and must be maintained regularly. Establish the best method of communication for you and your suppliers, and update each other frequently. Work together on creating a food safety plan that works for both sides and puts the consumer first.

  • Identify policies. Unclear or differing policies can often cause communication issues internally and with external partners. Make sure your policies line up with a supplier’s. Identifying and communicating standard policies with your suppliers saves time and improves overall collaboration. Update these policies as needed and make sure everyone is aware of a change, especially during an emergency recall.
  • Utilize technology. Today’s consumer demands more information about food safety than ever before. Incorporating collaborative technology makes it easier to provide this vital information, and to create a strong food safety culture. Data collected through advanced technology can help maintain consistency across global food supply chains, assess risks and address challenges quickly. It can also help pinpoint where a contamination may have begun, and stop it in its tracks before it’s too late.
  • Start the conversation early. Communicate before a product recall occurs. Involve the food safety team on policy and standard updates to reduce food safety risk.

Harvesting the Benefits of Collaboration

Good collaboration between retailers and suppliers drives efficiency when a crisis hits, mitigating risk, and ultimately protecting a retailer’s brand. Further, the ability to communicate and share information with partners throughout the supply chain increases private label sales.

Recalls happen often and unexpectedly. Without the correct tools in place, the damage to a retailer’s brand can be devastating. However, by establishing and maintaining excellent collaboration between all parties, products can be better monitored, benefiting retailers and suppliers – and most importantly, the consumer.

 

[1]https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/09/contaminated-eggs-netherlands-failed-to-sound-alarm-says-belgium

[2]https://www.foodonline.com/doc/my-two-cents-are-you-prepared-for-the-high-cost-of-a-food-recall-0001

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