Total Recall – Food & Drink Business

While this is certainly not something any company wants to experience, GS1 Australia has the experts, tools and resources to make a product recall situation more manageable. This is an abbreviated version of GS1 Australia’s Recall year in review report.

When things go wrong with a product or brand, they can quickly snowball, with economic and reputational impacts. The purpose of GS1 Australia’s recall documents is to show how to be better prepared should your business experience an unforeseen event.

Mark Blitenthall, service engagement manager at GS1 Australia, says he has seen many good practices over the years, as well as some that could be improved.

“One area that consistently emerges is the reluctance of companies and individuals to talk about their experiences with product recalls. Our Year of Recalls report is designed to inform and share best practices for better recalls,” says Blitenthall.

Throughout the year, GS1 Australia runs a series of bootcamps, led by product recall experts from different industries, covering crisis communications, root cause analysis, reducing product waste and asking what did not work.

“We’ve created a space where a conversation about recall best practice can take place and be accessible to everyone.

“It’s too late for an expert to help you or find information on what to do once you have a product safety incident,” Blitenthall says.

A product recall situation results from unforeseen events.

The “What went wrong” bootcamp looks at what can be done to minimize risk, including not relying solely on vendor test certificates; the value of international horizon scanning to proactively identify emerging challenges abroad; and seek input from state and territory regulators.

Crisis communication

The bootcamp begins with the early stages of crisis communication and mitigates the impact by understanding what a callback is and the high pressure situation it creates.

It examines how to prepare before a crisis even exists, with an internal team that can spring into action.

A severity matrix is ​​explained, so you know when to act and what the course of action will be – an essential tool that saves you time for thinking and planning when something has already gone wrong.

When to involve your insurer is also discussed, as recall insurers have panels of experts you can call upon.

The fundamental 4-step methodology is also covered: what you know; what you don’t know; what you do about it; what customers need to know.

Root cause analysis

A post-incident review, also known as a root cause analysis (RCA), when done thoroughly, is an invaluable resource. Businesses need to ask the 5 whys, essentially ask why as many times as necessary to uncover the root cause.

There is a range of RCA tools that are covered in the bootcamp including Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA), fishbone charts, mind maps, brainstorming and Man, Machine, Material, Method ( 4M).

An RCA can help a business identify one or potentially multiple factors as well as prevent future problems. It can also help create an environment where people at the coal face feel empowered to point out potential hazards.

Less waste, more good

Mislabeling is one of the most common reasons for product recalls, with relabelling being a simple solution to ensure product is safely reused. GS1 Australia says that often a simple relabeling of allergens or ingredients is sufficient.

Products throughout the supply chain, such as individual ingredients, can also be reused, with companies encouraged to work with food support agencies like Foodbank.

Under the GS1 Australia Recall system, businesses have the option to donate suitable products to Foodbank by ticking a box.

GS1 Australia’s Recall Year in Review report gives more details on the bootcamps, contains in-depth case studies and provides an overview of the GS1 Australia recall system. Visit

This article first appeared in the April 2022 edition of Food & Drink Business.

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