One of the largest food producers in the U.S. was forced to recall more than 62,000 packages of snack crackers due to a packaging error.
WhiteWave Foods, the producer of some of the most recognized food brands, issued a Class I undeclared allergen recall on February 20, 2015. A packaging error at its Broomfield, CO, plant forced the recall of around 62,000 boxes of Horizon Cheddar Sandwich Crackers. The outer package was labeled as a cheddar sandwich cracker, while the inner packages actually contained peanut butter sandwich crackers.
In 2014, there were 43 Class I undeclared allergen recalls, the number one reason for recalls and one of the most dangerous, and most often caused by a labeling issue. These recalls are preventable by exercising aggressive due diligence by double checking that the inner and outer packaging set up for production are correct for the production run. A quality check at the end of the first packaging run could have prevented the entire recall well before 62,000 packages made it into transit and into the marketplace.
The best food defense plan or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan, a systematic preventive approach to food safety in production processes (the FDA and USDA mandate HACCP for juice and meat, respectively), is not effective without regular validation and monitoring done on a set schedule, with the responsible parties or positions specified, in writing. In a facility producing products with and without one of the top eight allergens, it is critical for a very aggressive, food defense and HACCP plan to be in place.
Consumers with known food allergens put a large amount of trust in food manufacturers to ensure the packaging and labels match the product. A brand that does not measure up to their expectations, even if it only happens once, can suffer damage, as demonstrated by this recall. Recalls, such as this, also illustrate the reasoning behind strict, food safety legislation.
Though Pak West is not a food manufacturer, it does a high volume of food packaging business and is, therefore, associated with the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation), an independent, accredited organization, which develops standards, and tests and certifies products and systems. NSF inspects Pak West’s facilities annually doing a “Warehouse & Distribution Center Food Safety, Sanitation & Quality” audit according to NSF’s global standards and compliancy.
The audit requires a HACCP plan to be in place as well. According to Rene Lopez, Pak West’s QC Director, Pak West’s HACCP plan, for example, stipulates a QC inspection for all materials delivered and the recording of lot and delivery information to ensure the integrity of the item.
Now may be the time to examine your own food defense or HACCP plan, not only to prevent mislabeling on packaging, but to prevent a financially damaging recall.
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