According to a recent article in Food Safety News, for both FDA and USDA, the second quarter this year saw more food product recalls than during 18 of the past 21 quarters.1  Undeclared milk was responsible for the vast majority of the volume of food products recalled under the USDA’s regulations, and the primary cause of the milk allergen recalls was the failure of a supplier to declare milk on its products’ labels, which resulted in producers downstream failing to declare milk on their labels.

As a result of recall, a brand’s reputation for quality gets damaged and all the materials, money, time, and effort that went into getting the product and package produced and on the shelf are wasted.

Why does this happen?

Sometimes, simple mistakes such as proofreading, typos and omissions occur because everyone thinks there is power in the sheer number of approvers. It’s easy to think:

“Surely if we have eight sets of eyes on this package, between all of us we will find every error and correct it.”

This behavior is similar to what Professor Robert Cialdini identifies as the Bystander Effect, which is what happens when a group of people perceive that they are each bystanders and therefore not directly accountable for what they are experiencing. He contends that accountability is diluted because of the number of people involved. As a result, no one assumes true, full accountability for any portion of the activity. This means the more people there are in the approver group, the less accountable any one of them feels for the approval.

There’s a better way to manage your package and artwork development process. Workflow and proofing technology help package development teams organize the complexity of processes in which many people need to approve artwork and packaging, making the process efficient, effective, and repeatable while mitigating risk.

Furthermore, using technology simplifies and provides valuable context to approval workflows. It helps users automatically compare the new statement to the old statement, approved graphic to final graphic, new version to previous version. Add the power to approve once and then execute approved changes across multiple stock-keeping units (SKUs), and now teams are achieving quality results at scale.

Finally, to get the most out of decision makers, make sure to provide clear review instructions and enable easy access to relevant source documentation (such as specifications, technical drawings and approved regulatory content). Many times reviewers are not sure what to check due to lack of context, but this is easily remedied by guidance documents detailing who is requesting the change, who is approving the request, and what documentation is available to support the change.

All of this makes team members more effective by motivating them to own their decisions. This drives the kind of accountability regulated industries demand from product manufacturers.

The new thinking for each approver can be: “This is my portion, and only I can prove the right answer to it. I am certain it’s right and confident approving.”

Learn more about food product recalls and how to avoid them in this Packaging Digest article: Own it: How more effective packaging approvals can help you avoid a recall.

 

  1. “Bacteria, undeclared milk top causes for recalls in 2Q.” Retrieved from: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/08/bacteria-undeclared-milk-top-causes-for-recalls-during-2q/#.Wag29IqQz_Q (Visited 8/31/17).