LOWE'S FOOD STORES IS ONE of more than 500 food retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers that now subscribe to the Rapid Recall Exchange, an online service introduced by major trade associations in September 2009. But the exchange is looking for more participants so that it can become the industry standard for recall alerts.
The Rapid Recall Exchange, available through www.rapidrecallexchange.org , enables manufacturers to efficiently disseminate food recall alerts to retailers and wholesalers. It was developed by the Food Marketing Institute and GS1 US to improve on recall notification methods such as email and fax. The exchange, used by about 100 retailers, is also supported by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Grocers Association.
The exchange complies with the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration's Reportable Food Registry and features secure user-authentication, two-way messaging between trading partners, Web access, and email and text alerts. It offers comprehensive information on recalled products, with images for easy identification. Manufacturers can receive verification of notification, ensuring that their trading partners have received recall information.
The exchange is operated on a cost-recovery basis, enabling “nominal” subscription fees that are tiered for companies of all sizes.
“The fast and wide adoption of Rapid Recall Exchange demonstrates that companies need a standardized, more efficient process for handling product recalls,” said Leslie Sarasin, FMI's president and chief executive officer. “We welcome additional subscribers, so they too will benefit from industry collaboration. In the end, it's all about retailers and suppliers improving the recall process and keeping the food supply safe for our customers.”
Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., another retail user of the exchange, has been encouraging its suppliers to join. “Rapid Recall Exchange is the most fully featured recall service available, and we would like even more manufacturers to use it,” said Michael Roberson, director of corporate quality assurance for Publix. “Ideally it should be the industry's primary source for recall communications, so we want and need adoption by the vast majority of our suppliers.”
In addition to subscribing to the exchange, Lowe's employs a rapid process internally to get recalled products off shelves. Headquarters personnel make “immediate round-robin calls to stores,” said Gary Watson, vice president of business support for Lowe's, Winston-Salem, N.C. The stores have 48 hours to confirm that they have “taken appropriate action.”