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Is supply chain collaboration the way to reduce food recalls?

The UK food supply chain is being urged to collaborate more closely in the wake of more high-profile product recalls.

Just this week, food product recalls have continued to make headlines, with several supermarkets recalling products over allergy fears, due to undeclared ingredients. It follows a recent survey by LRQA, which showed how 72% of UK consumers expect their supermarket or restaurant to know the precise ingredients of every product they supply.

Now, food safety certification experts, LRQA, are calling for manufacturers and suppliers along the supply chain to work together to provide assurance and transparency, placing consumer safety at the forefront of all supply chain management decisions.

Stuart Kelly, Head of Commercial, Customised Assurance at LRQA, commented: “As UK consumers become more educated on the risks associated with mislabelling and undeclared ingredients, it falls to the food industry as a whole to ensure it is doing everything possible to detect ingredients and control the global supply chain. Programmes, such as Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)-aligned food safety certification, are in place to instil supplier-retailer-consumer trust.”

Product recalls in the food industry can have severe impacts on business, particularly with reputational damage. According to the report ‘UK Food Trends: A Snapshot in Time’, one in five UK consumers have actively changed the brands that they purchase from, as a result of a food safety incident or product recall.

Stuart Kelly continued: “Our research illustrates the exceptionally high demands that UK consumers place on their food retailers. Supermarkets and other vendors are expected to do more to provide assurance that food is what it says on the tin and maintain brand loyalty. However, it is time for the industry to work together and for the entire supply chain to provide transparency.”

The report also found that one in three shoppers are more concerned about food safety than they were a year ago. 57.1% of UK consumers are concerned with food contamination, such as listeria or salmonella, which is likely to be influenced by the food safety scares that have repeatedly made headlines, over the last decade.

Stuart Kelly added: “Food has never been safer to consume, and yet we are still faced with the reality that nearly one third of consumers are questioning the safety of the food they eat. Whether intentional or unintentional, undeclared ingredients in food have influenced consumer trust. Food safety scares have created a climate of mistrust and while recalls are undertaken to preserve consumer safety, the negative associations unfortunately dominate consumers’ opinion. By working together, the food industry can help avoid future issues and regain consumer trust.”

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