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Getting to The Root of Food Recalls

Product recalls are a major threat to food and beverage manufacturing companies. These recalls often result in disruption of operations, financial losses, and most importantly a drop in consumer confidence.


Given the negative impacts associated with recalls, it makes sense for food businesses to take even larger steps towards minimising the chances of their product being recalled. Yet, the instances of food recalls continue to rise. Overseas, both the US and the UK have shown a great increase in food recalls in recent years. Locally, businesses and consumers in Malaysia are also no strangers to food recalls. From the recent nationwide recalling of worm contaminated canned sardines from China, to the recalling of a major milk brand from Malaysia’s supermarkets in 2016 due to bacterial contamination, food product recalls are becoming an increasingly common phenomenon.

Causes of food product recalls

The most common cause of food product recalls is contamination of foods by microorganisms and toxins. This type of contamination can be caused by:

  • Use of contaminated water by producers
  • Unsanitary food handling practices along the supply chain
  • Chemical contamination from unsafe pesticides used by unlicensed pest controllers and other unapproved ingredients
  • Pest infestations in the supply chain

Food recalls can also be caused by cross contamination of allergenic products (such as nuts or dairy) during production. This was likely the case when a global retail company had to recall 6 of their chocolate products, when they found that the milk and hazelnut contents were insufficiently declared. Furthermore, food products may also be contaminated by foreign matter such as metal, plastic, glass, wood from production lines or packaging, whole bodies or body parts of pests resulting from an infestation in the supply chain.

Preventing Recalls

Similar to overcoming issues of any kind, businesses need to tackle the root cause in order to prevent it. By actively preventing contamination from occurring at all points of their production process, businesses would be more able to safeguard themselves from the possibility of a recall. This can be achieved by implementing hygienic practices such as:

  • Ensuring there are proper hygiene procedures to keep equipment and surfaces clean and personal hygiene is maintained by food handling personnel
  • Prevent the growth of microorganisms by temperature and moisture control through adequate ventilation
  • Ensure processes prevent cross contamination between raw and cooked or fresh products, including measures such as separating employees working in each area
  • Implement pest control measures to deny harbourage, prevent entry to buildings and prevent access to food and water, including waste food

Being a trusted partner to food businesses all over Malaysia, Rentokil has been a reliable provider of pest management solutions. By providing effective pest control services, we can help you mitigate supply chain risks and ensure safer food products reach consumers. Call us at 1300 882 911 to find out more about our comprehensive Integrated Pest Management programme or send us an enquiry today.

Curious about how much a food recall can actually cost in terms of direct and indirect costs? Read our article on Food Recalls and How it Affects Food Businesses to find out more.

Tyco Integrated Security (2012), Recall: The Food Industry's Biggest Threat to Profitability