How to Get Labels Right the First Time, Every Time!
In a last weeks’ blog, we mentioned that in May 2017, US retailer Trader Joe’s recalled its Mikawaya Chocolate Mochi flavoured ice cream due to concerns it may contain peanuts which weren’t listed on the label. As peanuts are a known allergen, federal law requires them to be declared on food labels. For details click here.
This wasn’t an isolated incident. Allergen-related product recalls are increasing every year₁ and are largely attributed to cross contamination in the factory and supply chain, or labelling errors (wrong label or erroneous allergen declarations).
In June 2017 alone, the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) published ten food and drink recalls sparked by labelling errors. Recalled products included gluten-free ale, burgers, sandwiches, biltong, chicken bouillon powder, chocolate brownies, cheesecake, Quorn sausages, salted radishes and various bakery goods. For details click here.
Allergen-related Recalls Rise Globally
In the US, the number of allergen-related recall events and the number of recalled products have almost been increasing linearly since 2013, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)₁. In 2017, it’s estimated there will be around 340 product recall events related to allergens₁. Peanut and milk are the two most common allergens, followed by soy and gluten, including wheat.
EU RASFF data shows the total number of recall notifications in 2016 was 50% higher than the number in 2014. The major allergens involved were milk, followed by gluten (including wheat). Cereals and baked goods were by far the largest category with 29% of all allergen notifications in 2016. This category includes items such as pasta, cookies, cereal bars, biscuits and muesli₁.
According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), more than 30% of all food recalls in the past 10 years have been due to undeclared allergens. Each year, dairy is the cause of most allergen-related recalls with gluten, peanut and soy also impacting in low numbers₁.
Why are Allergen Recalls So Concerning?
The reaction to allergens, even at very low levels, can cause serious health effects and be potentially fatal. It’s therefore essential that foods are labelled accurately so that consumers can make informed decisions about what they eat in order to manage and prevent allergic reactions.
Vision Inspection Can Help!
By verifying that all data on product labels is correct and legible, including information relating to allergen warnings, automated vision inspection systems can prevent labelling errors, significantly minimising the risk to consumers posed by undeclared allergens, whilst saving manufacturers time and money.
Unlike human inspectors, vision systems never blink or tire and are capable of inspecting for label presence, wrinkles, tears, skewed labels, double labels, missing labels, as well as incorrect label pairs (back and front) on a wide variety of containers and packages. In addition, overwrap alignment inspection ensures that wrap-around labels are placed properly and straight.
Download your free Vision Inspection Guide today for more information.