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Product and Food Safety Recalls Update| Trading Standards Lawyer

Product and Food Safety Recalls Update| Trading Standards Lawyer

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS)  was launched in January 2018 to advise on product safety for non - food goods such as toys, clothes, cosmetics and white goods. Together with the British Standards Insitute [BSI] it has developed a code of practice for product recalls which builds on the guidance in the General Product Safety Regulation.

Food however is governed by the Food Standards Agency who run a news and alerts service on current issues. The recent report however from the Lloyds Register Foundation paints a bleak picture, where a recent survey has found disturbing levels of public confidence in the global food supply chain.

The LRF report is a fascinating read which includes details of a food safety prosecution in the US where a sentence of 28 years was imposed and also goes into great detail about sustainable food development and new technology that is being used in this sector.

he Office for Public Safety and Standards ( OPSS) is the national regulator for all consumer products apart from vehicles, medicine and food. As well as hallmarking and standards work, the OPSS is the lead enforcement agency for a range of goods based and standards based regulations.

The OPSS, together with BSI, has published the Code of Practice on consumer product safety related recalls and other corrective actions: Part 1: Business  Part II Regulators.   Click here to purchase the code for £45 from the BSI website.

The main feature of the Code is the introduction of the Product Safety Incident Plan, a tool that gives detailed guidance on the principles behind a sucessful product recall that were originally introduced by the General Product Safety Regulations. This includes:

  • Practical measures to enhance traceability
  • Protocols for the collection of information
  • How/when to contact enforcement authorities
  • Production of risk assessments 
  • Appropriate corrective action
  • Recall notices, Call handling, returns policy etc.

Traceability

It is becoming clear that traceability is becoming the key issue in building trust in the supply chain. The use of rfid and other tagging to identify specfic batch data is now essential for a comprehensive PSIP. The use of blockchain is now being recommended as the 'go to' tech solution for many global supply chain issues, especially in the Food Sector. See for example the article Recalls and Blockchain: How Blockchain can Aid and Ultimately Prevent Recalls where this emerging tech is proposed to determine the origin of products where a risk has been identified, such the farms where infected lettuce has been grown, and also to identify where counterfeit electronics, electrical goods and pharmaceuticals have been put on the market causing risk of danger to consumers.

The Lloyds Register Foundation have released an important report on Food Safety entitled the Foresight Review of Food Safety which dealt with recent supermarket food recalls over allergy fears, due to uncertain ingredients. Again, the call is for collaboration and traceability where consumer safety is placed at the forefront of all supply chain management decisions. 

The Report estimates that an estimated 600 miilion people, almost 1 in 10 in the world, fall ill as a result of eating contaminated food and 420,000 die every year. The cost of unsafe food is high, the US department of agriculture estimates that foodbourne illness costs the United States at least $15.6 billion annually in lost productivity and medical care. The food production system is also one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. 

The Lloyds Register Foundation firmly believe that technology solutions can play an important part in addressing these challenges, using life sciences to produce new forms of proteins, and using sustainable methods of food production such as urban farming, the use of predicitve data and IoT coupled with blockchain to build transparent and traceable global supply chains. 

The report makes for fascinating reading: for example it describes the largest food scandal in history which was the 2009 outbreak of salmonella in the US involving the Penaut Corporation of America. It followed a long history of food quality issues, 9 people died and at least 714 people (half of them children) fell ill from food poisoning after eating products containing contaminated penauts. It invoved the most extensive food recall in US history involving 46 states and more than 360 companies, with 3,900 products. The PCA eventually filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation and the general manager was sentenced to 28 years imprisionment for his role in the outbreak after he was convicted of 70 charges.

At page 25 of the report is an amazing collection of statistics presented in graphic form around the food sector: for example, 1 billion people have a vitamin D deficiency, 33% of food is wasted and 33% of fisheries are overfished. Of even greater concern is that 20% of Greenhouse gases are caused by agriculture and 49% of plastic in the sea (thought to be 150 million tonnes) is single use mainly from the food sector.

Circular Economy techniques are critical in dealing with food waste. Globally, if food waste could be represented as a country it would be the third largest GHG emitter behind the US and China. The resources needed to produce the food that becomes lost or wasted has a carbon footprint of about 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2. In the US it is estimated that $161 billion of edible food is wasted every year.

New technologies. The report goes into detail around many new technologies which is beyond the scope of this blog article. It is however interesting to read about edible insects, sustainable sea food and urban and vertical farming which optimise land use and promote local production of food which shortens supply chains and therby makes a substantial contribution to climate mitigaion. 

The report explains about Microbiome, where researches see the gut microbiome as being an important part of the food safety story, to protect people from foodborne deseases. It is a community of benifiicial microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and viuses that inhabit humans. Each of us is home to 100 trillion bacteria and other microbes. Science is now starting to understand how this complex organism impacts on life in general and in particular food safety.

For any advice and assistance for issues like these please do call Jeremy on 0844 2722322 or submit a comment below. Jeremy will come back to you at the earliest convenience.

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