Beware! The Mislabelling Errors That Can Lead To Costly Recalls

October 29, 2018

Have you ever thought about the cost and logistics of recalling one or more of your products? If your labels are incorrect or incomplete the outcome can be dire.

Labelling errors have been behind the recent upswing in food recalls, with certain products being brought to the attention of authorities because of missing or incomplete labels, mislabelled ingredients or the failure to properly declare allergens. There are serious consequences for labelling errors, including regulatory action, product recall and consumer action.

Five ways to prevent labelling errors

  1. Raw material/ingredient substitution

Ingredient substitutions that are made due to unavailability is a common source of mislabelling. Any ingredients listing or nutritional data must be changed to reflect any moderations to the existing recipe.

  1. Changes to the original recipe

Following on from point one, any changes to the recipe or formulation must be reflected in the labelling. Any reformulation could also affect serving sizes and final product weights, both of which need to be accurate on the label.

  1. Incorrect cleaning

Equipment that has not been cleaned adequately may have allergen residues left behind. If the potential for allergen contamination has not specifically been stated on the label it can have dire consequences for consumers.

  1. Change of supplier

 A change in suppliers could mean that the composition of your raw ingredients has changed, such as with “pre-mixes”. Your new supplier may also have a different allergen exposure to your previous supplier.

  1. Lack of knowledge

Ignorance is not a defense for being non-compliant. The onus is on businesses to keep up to date with current labelling laws and to periodically review the content of their product labelling and packaging.

Two recent examples of costly labelling errors

Gerber baby food

Gerber was recently forced to recall one of its many baby product lines after the label on their Cheese Ravioli Pasta Pick-Ups did not disclose the presence of egg allergens as required. The error was a subtle one: eggs were listed on the ingredients but were not included in the “contains” list designed to disclose common allergens. The potential hazard to infants justified an immediate recall.

Sunshine Bakery Cakes

 Sunshine Bakery a good example of a proactive response to a product recall. The company voluntarily decided to recall two of its varieties after it was realised that the products contained several allergens that were not disclosed on the label. The products in question contained peanut, coconut, almond and cashews, posing a significant risk of allergic reaction to consumers.

If there’s one important takeaway from this article it’s that simple labelling mistakes can make life very hard for your business. Avoid the time and expense of costly recalls by making sure your packaging is fully compliant with all the necessary food labelling laws.

Don’t fall into the trap of mislabelling products, brush up on your knowledge of product recalls today!