The average cost of food recalls in the United States is 10 million dollars. This sort of setback can have devastating effects for even the largest of food manufacturing companies. However, these sorts of setbacks can have permanent damage in the place that matters most to your brand: the mind of the consumer.
Why Brand Reputation Matters in Food Processing
Imagine your ideal customer perusing the aisles of their local grocery store with your product on their shopping list. They approach the aisle that your product is located and instead of finding a fully stocked shelf, they find an 8.5×11 piece of printer paper taped to the empty shelf saying, “Due to the recent recall of [Insert your brand here] products for potential salmonella contamination, we are not carrying [your brand’s products] at this time. Sorry for the inconvenience”. After reading this they notice that all your competitors’ products are fully stocked surrounding the void left by the absence of your product.
It resonates with consumers when things like this happen, and odds are that you can remember a brand off the top of your head that had a major recall from years or even decades ago. Of course, most of those companies are still around, but there will always be questions of trust surrounding those brands in the consumers’ minds. To the consumers, a recall may signify that a company does not have their and their family’s safety in mind. We all know about the health and safety risks associated with recalls and if a company undergoes a recall, consumers may believe that they’re taking a risk purchasing any of the brand’s products, not just the ones that were recalled.
How to Build Consumer Trust and Avoid the Cost of Food Recalls
Luckily, building consumer trust doesn’t have to be complicated. There are several things that a company can do to avoid the costs of food recalls.
Make food safety a priority with a strong food safety culture
Companies that never or rarely undergo food recalls make one thing their top priority: food safety. The foundation of food safety is good hygiene practices. Having a robust hygiene plan for your facility drastically reduces the risks and cost of a food recall. Building a food safety culture is crucial in having a team that cares about the cost of food recalls. A food safety culture is a unified mindset across the organization that puts food safety at the forefront of everything done within the business, both physically and mentally. If an effective food safety culture is in place, everything from the layout and design of a facility to how an employee thinks about their own personal hygiene, should all be considered through the lens of food safety.
One of the most effective ways to maintain and reinforce a food safety culture at your facility is to encourage each person to think like an owner. Employees should be empowered to uphold themselves and others to hygiene best practices, be comfortable addressing poor hygiene practices, and be responsible for maintaining the cleanliness and supplies in hygiene zones. In an ideal food safety culture, everyone should feel like they have a part to play in hygiene and are encouraged to do the right thing for food safety, even when no one is watching.
Train and test to minimize costs of food recalls
Training someone once on complex hygiene SOPs meant to guarantee food safety is almost as bad as not training them at all. Good hygiene practices must be effective, consistent, easily understood by everyone and constantly reinforced so that team members can memorize the SOPs, embrace a mindset of hygiene excellence, and uphold the food safety culture at your facility. Having routine retraining exercises (found in our food safety toolbox) for your teams is also key strengthening your overall food safety program.
Testing your hygiene methods to ensure their continuous efficacy is just as important as training employees on those methods in the first place. There are several testing methods that can be used to validate the efficacy of hand and footwear hygiene methods so that you know what’s working for your facility. We recommend using ATP testing to validate hand washing procedures because it gives you real time results and involves fewer variables than other methods.
Leverage Automated Hygiene Equipment in Hygienic Zoning
Hygienic zoning in food processing that leverages automated hand and boot washing stations present the ideal environment for food safety. The facilities that have taken hygiene to the next level with automated hygiene have even less risks for recalls and have even been recognized as award winners for food safety. CleanTech® cuts handwashing time in half, is consistent from user to user and makes training easy! Whether it’s the employee’s first day or if they speak a different language, it doesn’t matter. Everyone gets the same perfect hand wash, every single time.
CleanTech® Automated Handwashing Systems have been clinically proven to reduce 99.9% of pathogens in only 12 seconds. These systems give the exact same handwash to each user which eliminates any risks associated with inadequate hand washing procedures. Utilizing automated boot scrubbers has also shown to be an effective way of eliminating cross contamination risks in both wet and dry facilities. Upgrading to the latest hygiene technology is by far the most effective thing a company can do for food safety to eliminate the cost of food recalls before they happen.