Food safety in New Zealand is being strengthened by the effective recall of unsafe or unsuitable products through an Internet-based service that now links over 1000 manufacturers and distributors to more than 500 supermarkets throughout the country.
The GS1 ProductRecallNZ web portal is being used every week to recall or withdraw* products from food, grocery and liquor supply chains. So far in 2015, the portal has been used 47 times at levels of speed and efficiency never achievable with ad hoc, often paper-based, systems that were previously in place to pull back products.
Over 1000 manufacturers and distributors have now registered on ProductRecallNZ. Each is able to notify its trading partners simultaneously of any need for recall or withdrawal with standardised messages that precisely identify products and the matters of concern with them.
GS1 New Zealand Chief Executive Dr Peter Stevens says, since its launch in mid-2012, ProductRecallNZ has become an integral part of doing business in the food, grocery and liquor industries. “Developed by a work group of New Zealand’s largest manfacturers, retailers and Ministry for Primary Industries, the web portal has proven its worth time and again as a means of rapidly pulling back products such that risk to consumers can be reduced or avoided. It has definitely helped to strengthen food safety in this country, while also enabling supply chains to continue operating with least disruption,” says Dr Stevens.
Reasons for recalls and withdrawals have ranged from incorrect product labelling to product contents contaminated with foreign objects.
Most large food and beverage manufacturers and distributors are registered on the web portal, with an increasing number of them using it for actual recalls or withdrawals and/or for mock-recalls in preparation for these.
Dr Stevens says actual recalls are only publicised when necessary to alert the public about a product of concern that has already found its way into consumers’ hands. “ProductRecallNZ is most successful when few people hear about it because, in each of the instances, products have been pulled back quickly and with minimum fuss.”
Katherine Rich, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, says the supermarket groups and other retailers have increasingly found ProductRecallNZ the best means of being notified when there is a problem. “They are receiving information in one standard format, through one highly-reliable channel – information that is unambiguous, comprehensive and action-able,” says Rich.
During 2014, around 75% of all recall and withdrawal notifications received by major food and grocery retailers were through ProductRecallNZ.
The Foodstuffs Group and Progressive Enterprises have been strong supporters of the web portal from its launch, along with the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Every Foodstuffs outlet (New World, PAK’nSAVE, Four Square, Gilmores, Toops and Trents) directly receives notifications through ProductRecallNZ. Within the Progressive Enterprises group, FreshChoice and SuperValue stores will also soon be directly connected. Countdown supermarkets receive notifications through a seamless interface between ProductRecallNZ and Progressive Enterprises’ efficient Product Withdrawal and Recall Management (PWRM) system.
Dr Stevens says ProductRecallNZ now has more than 1500 points of connection, with more manufacturers and distributors registering every month and with more medium-sized and smaller retailers in the food, grocery and liquor industries also coming on board.
GS1 is an international not-for-profit organisation dedicated to global standards and solutions that improve the efficiency and visibility of supply and demand chains. The GS1 System is the most widely used supply chain standards system in the world. GS1 New Zealand is the New Zealand member of the global GS1 organisation which has, in total, 108 national member organisations. GS1 New Zealand enables more than 4,500 members in this country – businesses of all sizes, in 22 sectors, which enhance their efficiency and cost effectiveness by using global identifiers and supply chain best practices, including the application of bar codes, radio frequency identification and e-commerce. To learn more about GS1 New Zealand visit www.gs1nz.org.
*A withdrawal is the pulling back of a product where there is no health and safety issue.