LAKELAND, Fla. — By participating in the GS1 Rapid Recall Exchange industry portal, Publix Super Markets has been able to cut its response time to product recalls by 90%, said Michael Roberson, Publix's director of corporate quality assurance.
“The No. 1 benefit of the Rapid Recall Exchange has been the response time,” he said in an Aug. 18 SN-hosted webinar, “Expediting Recalls via the Rapid Recall Exchange,” sponsored by GS1 US, Lawrenceville, N.J. Through the exchange, manufacturers are able to provide all the critical fields — such as photographs and product destination — “necessary to properly communicate a recall out to our business units.”
Under alternative recall communication methods, he added, Publix might need to “go back and forth multiple times via email or phone with the recalling firm.”
Publix has encouraged its suppliers who are not participating in the Rapid Recall Exchange to do so, Roberson said. “We've added participation [in the Exchange] to our supplier scorecard, so that during business reviews our category management team and corporate purchasing department can have ongoing conversations with suppliers to encourage engagement with the Rapid Recall Exchange.” Over the past several months, the chain has also worked closely with GS1 US to identify suppliers who have yet to join the Exchange.
In recent recall situations with suppliers not in the Exchange, in which recall information was delayed, Roberson asked those companies why they had not joined. “The common response was, ‘We never thought we'd have to have a recall,’” he said.
Publix has a designated recall coordinator “who can be on point for all of these recalls,” which amount to more than 200 per year, Roberson said. “This individual, along with our food safety management team, is responsible for receiving all of our recall information.”
Once Publix receives information through the Rapid Recall Exchange or other sources, it is uploaded to a recall system, which interfaces with the chain's purchasing, distribution center and store systems. “Product is quickly removed from retail and supply chain venues to protect our customers,” he said.
After disseminating recall information, Publix is able to view “who has received and opened recall information,” said Roberson. The chain can also determine how many units of recalled product are on hand at every location.
If Publix headquarters doesn't receive a timely response from a store regarding a recall, “it quickly elevates to district management and food safety teams,” said Roberson. The chain also employs other redundancies such as locking the POS so that recalled product can't be scanned.