Mock Recalls and Traceability Exercises – Tips for Success

Mock Recalls and Traceability Exercises – Tips for Success

Hello, all our Food Bites followers!

This week we decided to broach a slightly more technical subject.  A lot of non-conformance data from our ProCert certification audit portal as well as feedback from our facilitators (who also happen to be FSMS lead auditors) shows that a lot of facilities are still struggling to implement a traceability system that really works.

Most Food Safety Management Standards require that the effectiveness of the system you have in place is tested at least once per year across the range of products you produce.  The first mistake we tend to make is the fact that we focus on the “once per year bit”.  If you had to exercise once per year, how much would YOUR health and fitness improve?  I rest my case…

The fact that there are also similar requirements relating to mock recall, makes it very tempting to combine the traceability and recall test into a single activity which is not a problem, as long as you realise that these tests have two distinct objectives:

The aim of your traceability test is to assess your ability to trace raw materials, intermediate products, final products, primary packaging, and rework used in the production process.  Usually this exercise will end at the dispatch step but if you are distributing your own products, you will have to demonstrate traceability to the last point of delivery.  You must be able to demonstrate that your raw material inputs balance with the quantities of final products produced.

Mock recall is aimed at testing your ability to communicate effectively throughout the supply chain and account for all lots/batches of final products and the quantities dispatched.  Bearing in mind that an actual recall could be of a serious nature, the effectiveness of a recall will rely on your ability to communicate effectively throughout your supply chain and your understanding of your logistics processes.

Here are our tips:

Tip #1:  Just because the standard says “at least once per year” does not mean that that should be enough for you.  Practice makes perfect!

Tip #2: Only combine your traceability and mock recall test if you can demonstrate that both objectives can be achieved:

Tip #3:  The exercise is a team effort and effectiveness is truly demonstrated when each department contributes based on their area of expertise: i.e. inbound logistics, quality, issuing and production staging, production, outbound logistics, etc.

Tip #4: Remember to time your exercise (how long does it take from start to end?) and also record the timing of key activities by indicating how long it took to obtain the required records from each department.

Tip #5:  Do a post-mortem to determine where there may be issues.  Look at what worked and what didn’t and take actions to address the gaps.  Test the system again to see if your actions are effective.

Need more information?  Why not register for one of our workshops where we cover these topics in more detail:

Visit our website at www.progress-excellence and engage with one of our helpful chat agents online or simply e-mail us at

See you next week when we will sink our teeth into the “art of meeting deadlines”,

Take care,

from all of us at Food Bites!