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Focus Your Culture on Product Safety

CPA President offers insight into how to prevent and manage recalls.

Jerry Thompson, President of CTI Packaging and CPA President.
Jerry Thompson, President of CTI Packaging and CPA President.

My fellow CPA members,

Over this last year, I have read about multiple recalls on products that had both minor and severe effects on consumers. One example is Trader Joe’s with three separate recalls in July., including soup, falafel, and cookies. Additionally, there were multiple recalls in 2023 for eye drops associated with eye infections that have led to partial vision loss, blindness, and even four deaths.

It clearly shows why we need to be vigilant on our recall procedures and mock (practice) recalls and review those documents and procedures.

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I’d like to offer some suggestions to help us tighten the reins on product safety within our facilities:

  • Be sure you have a supply chain that you trust and who can provide documentation as well as consistent product.
  • Double check the micros and testing done by the brand or consumer packaged goods company to make sure they were done properly.
  • Test and verify the product when it enters your facility and have that testing available and provided, without being asked.
  • Look at your own processes, validate them and test them, and seek to understand why testing occurs on a specific part of the machine and how it works. Review your sanitation and cleaning procedures on your machines and the swab test that are completed on them.
  • When finished with a project, send out for micros and get tests done to verify you didn’t contaminate the product in the manufacturing and packaging processes.
  • Continue your education with food safety courses.

All it takes is someone to inadvertently contaminate a product, a machine not cleaned correctly or too quickly, or a machine failure to potentially contaminate a product or not seal the product completely. Those errors can result in products which could, at the very least, lose their freshness and, at the worst, contain mold or bacteria. According to the World Health Organization, one in 10 people fall ill after eating contaminated food.

Food safety starts at the top, but goes all the way through your culture, to every single person. It is always wise to make sure that everybody understands how important food safety is by leading by example.

I look forward to seeing everyone at our ENGAGE event in Orlando, Florida. If you would like to discuss product safety further, I am always available to do so!

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