Retarus Press Release:
Plans for EU alert system: “Retailers need to optimize their product recalls”
Munich, 05.10.2017 // Following the recent international egg scandal and lessons learned from other instances of food product impurities in the near past, the EU has now announced plans to overhaul its rapid alert system for product recalls. A reaction on the part of the authorities is long overdue, suggests Miriam-Carena Schmitt, a retail sector specialist at information logistics experts Retarus:
“According to the consumer protectors at foodwatch e.V., hazardous food products have been recalled in more than 500 cases in Germany over the past five years. On average, this equates to at least two product recalls per week. European law first and foremost places the onus of responsibility on the producers of the food products, to protect consumers from coming to harm through unsafe or hazardous food products. Consumers these days have come to perceive precautionary product recalls as evidence of responsible business conduct on the part of a producer.
Avoid health risks: every second counts
To avoid high claims for compensation or legal redress, as well as dissatisfied customers and health risks, producers have to alert importers, wholesalers and retailers about product recalls without delay – unambiguously and by all imaginable channels. The legislator also prescribes precise documentation of the recall activities which leaves no gaps and can easily be traced. The intention is clear: Steps must be taken immediately to prevent the impacted products from being sold. So far a lot of the information has been reaching the stores and customers too late, however, or has only been spread by means of single channels. It is important, though, to alert addressees by means of the most fitting communication channel for that specific target group.
The alerts should also reinforce and build on each other: The individual supermarket stores are, for instance, best contacted by means of fax, so that the message can be taken as a paper document from the fax machine and displayed directly in the shop. Store managers and sales representatives in the field can also be informed by SMS as a supporting measure. In addition to the alert itself, a back channel is also especially essential in ensuring the availability of audit-proof documentation. It is crucial that the stores respond to the head office to confirm that the food products concerned have been removed from the shelves properly.
Generally speaking, addressing recipients by means of various channels, however, tends to use up valuable time in an emergency. Manually maintaining distribution lists and processing responses, moreover, result in a huge administrative effort. At the same time, it is very difficult to verify whether the recipient has received the message at all.
Producers of food products have to optimize their communication processes
To ensure dependable communication in a crisis situation, producers of food products therefore have to review their communication processes, and revise them if necessary. They require a flexible, automated solution, with which they are always able to reach their recipients as quickly as possible and which can verify receipt of the message with great precision in compliance with legal provisions. Cloud services offer valuable support in this regard.”
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