When food labeling goes wrong, there are numerous root causes that may be at fault in any given situation. For instance, there may be a miscommunication between the employees selecting ingredients and those setting the final design for the label. Equipment may have unknowingly been used for a different product, creating the risk of cross-contamination. In a large number of cases, the wrong packaging may be used for a particular item or flavor, which creates a mismatch between the ingredients list and the actual food.
No matter the exact cause of labeling mishaps, these incidents tend to be expensive. The recalls required when inaccurately labeled foods are found on store shelves or in restaurant kitchens can be large in scale, taking resources from other operations. The following are a few recent examples from the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service that show issues leading to recalls and the lengths companies must go to when setting things right.
On Nov. 8, Nestle Prepared Foods Company was forced to recall 26,400 pounds of products made with pork and beef. The issue in this case is that there was no USDA inspection mark on the items in question, as well as no ingredient labels. Rather than small, consumer-sized packages of items, the affected meat products are in bulk packing. It may be difficult to find them, as they were donated to a charity, and potentially divided up into smaller portions and passed along. Since the products are missing their ingredient lists, there is no acknowledgement that they contain the potential allergens eggs, milk soy and wheat.
In the case of a recent Taylor Farms prepared salad recall, the dressing was the culprit. The company received a consumer complaint about the dressing in one of its chicken salads, and found that in the affected batch of salads, there was an incorrect dressing applied, Caesar instead of bacon ranch. The Caesar dressing contains the possible allergen anchovies, leading to the recall. In this case, the labels were technically correct – but the recipe was wrong.
A quality assurance supervisor discovered that some of the chicken wraps made by Missa Bay did not declare its peanut and soy content on their labels. This is recall is relatively contained in size and scope, affecting a mere 46 pounds of chicken wraps sent to stores in New Jersey and Indiana.
When companies take their food labeling operations in-house, they need strong oversight to ensure they don't trigger a recall. There is also a need for high-quality printers that can deliver sufficient visual impact. Check out Argon Technology's online store in the U.S. and in Canada.