Transparency and Recall Prevention: The Promise of Specification Management in the Food and Beverage Supply Chain

Posted on 
May 15, 2020
Matthew Wright
Founder & CEO, Specright

Food recalls are serious business. Nearly 48 million Americans (or roughly 1 in 6) are sickened due to food-related illness each year, and 3,000 die from food-borne illness — and the problem seems to be getting worse. Between 2013 and 2018, the number of food recalls increased by 10 percent, with 905 incidents in 2016 alone.

No company wants to become embroiled in a recall, but what can be done to prevent one from happening in your business?While there is no way to make your company immune to potential food recalls and contamination, companies can take a proactive stance to reduce their risk of becoming the next news headline for all the wrong reasons.

What Prompts Food Recalls?

One of the biggest reasons food gets recalled is due to improper labeling, usually when allergens are not disclosed on the packaging. According to data, these recalls account for almost 49 percent of all recalls in the U.S.

The remaining 51 percent are believed to come from contamination in food production facilities and farms. PIRG’s Adam Garder, who oversees consumer safety, notes that one potential reason for contamination issues is that meat operations are growing and regulations and enforcement are not keeping pace.

As food production becomes more interconnected and industrialized, more animals pass through a facility, leaving the greater potential for pathogens to spread.  Also in light of a growing meat industry market, produce farms are increasingly housing livestock that can create cross-contamination from runoff and animal manure.

Mitigating Food Recall Impact Across the Supply Chain

Though the majority of companies voluntarily issue recalls as a precaution, admitting that a mistake might have been made is still a tough message for a company to share. It’s a critical decision that affects a brand’s image. It rattles consumer trust, even if the  story is spun in a positive light. Steps can be taken to mitigate risks and prevent recalls from happening with specification management. Here are three ways companies can use Specright’s Specification Data Management™ software to limit the risk of a food recall and its potential impact on your business.

Improve Product Labeling

Specification Management software provides a single source of truth and real-time data when it comes to labeling requirements. Companies can prevent oversight of important ingredients and allergen content from falling through the cracks to maintain compliance and avoid costly recalls. In many cases, labeling issues arise when a change is not communicated to a supplier or printer. With Specright, any change to a label specification sends a notification to all partners to ensure that they are operating off the latest version.

Trace Ingredients by Supplier

A recent Forrester report noted that food companies are using Specification Data Management to gain visibility and traceability into the supply chain by each individual supplier. Even though there are other systems that store vendor documentation, they don’t connect to the specification level to provide full insight throughout supply chain operations. Connecting critical documentation to relevant specifications and ultimately finished goods means users can access critical information in just a few clicks.

One executive interviewed by Forrester notes that this in-depth visibility is critical to food safety, stating that “If I click on one of my suppliers, I have all that documentation right there, but I can also see which distributors have bought chicken from that supplier and see the lanes of supply.”

Decrease Response Time

With greater visibility into the supply chain, food companies are better prepared to respond to issues that could affect consumer interest. They can be more proactive in issuing recalls before a food-borne illness becomes a threat. Furthermore, they can take action and quickly identify other suppliers or quickly pinpoint what facilities were impacted.

Specright Provides Transparency to Support Recall Prevention

Though nothing can fully prevent food recalls, Specright and Specification Management software are helping companies increase response time to potential problems and reduce errors that are within their control. To learn more about Specification Data Management and Specright, download our ebook on why Specification Data Management is the Future of Food.


Matthew Wright

Matthew Wright is the founder & CEO of Specright, the first cloud-based platform for Specification Management. Specright has been recognized by Fast Company’s prestigious Most Innovative Companies list, named a Gartner Cool Vendor, and as one of the Top Places to Work by the OC Register and Built in LA. Wright is also a published author and his book, “The Evolution of Products and Packaging,”was named to the Amazon Hot New Release List for Industrial Relations Business and has a five star rating. 

Prior to founding Specright, Wright spent more than 25 years in the packaging industry, holding leadership positions at International Paper, Temple Inland, and rightPAQ — a packaging company he co-founded. He has also been involved in leading multiple M&A deals in the packaging industry, currently sits on the MSU School of Packaging and Industry Advisory Board and previously served on the Packaging Advisory Board at Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo.

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