It’s no shocker that food recalls are an expensive, efficiency draining occurrence for food and beverage manufacturers. With needing to trace back bad food batches to its source, the damaged brand reputation caused by poor quality control, and the legal ramifications should consumers face allergic reactions due to improperly labeled ingredients, there’s no shortage of reasons to lament food recalls. And as far as causes are concerned, incorrect or inaccurate labeling of food products remains the most common. In fact, in just 2018, 160 out of the 382 food recalls that occurred were caused by inaccurate food labeling. Of course, this is pretty common knowledge for those working in the food and beverage manufacturing industry. However, recent changes to the manufacturing sector have been anything but common and many of the common best practices for a food recall solution aren’t as applicable in an increasingly more remote workspace.

Fortunately, food recall programs still exist and, with the incorporation of barcode scanning capabilities and industrial grade computers, have continued to protect manufacturers and consumers alike. So how are these barcode scanning capabilities being leveraged differently in a COVID-impacted world? And how can you slot these capabilities seamlessly into your operation to improve your own food recall solution? 

Portable Scanning Increases Opportunities for Catching Mistakes

Starting with the obvious benefits of barcode scanning, food products marked with a barcode can be instantly scanned and, in moments, have its entire history across the supply chain brought up on a shared workspace or dashboard. Once this history is brought up and laid out in a digestible way, it becomes invariably easier to catch where issues in food quality are occurring. 

Better yet, with a portable device such as an industrial grade tablet, these checks can be made from anywhere on the factory floor and at a moment’s notice. When an RFID scanner is built into your portable workstation, data can be scanned and instantly inputted into your systems, ledgers, and software. Not only does this provide more real-time data with which to make more actionable results, it eliminates human error in recording data by automating that recording.

Cloud Based Label Printing for a Remote Food Recall Solution

Label printing isn’t just happening on the factory floor anymore. With remote work taking over and supply chains being completely redrawn, food recall solutions powered by accurate labeling now take place across several locations and on several different networks. Fortunately, cloud-based label printing interfaces like TEKLYNX can allow you to upload approved, standardized labels that can then be shared with supply chain partners regardless of their location.

Even if labels need to be printed at a different location, users can start a print from their remote location, confident that it’s been approved for use, and have the label print out on-site where it can be applied to products and boxes.

Smart Tech Integration Means On Time, Accurate Labeling

Opportunities exist, even in a more remote workspace, for smart hardware integration when building out food labeling solutions. Barcode scanners, scales, and more can be integrated to your ERP systems and cloud-based label printing solutions to improve efficiency and accuracy. When all of your hardware and software is interconnected in this way, print jobs can be automatically triggered in response to data being captured such as when an item is scanned or weighted. Like we mentioned earlier, this means both more timely AND more accurate labeling since human error is almost entirely removed from the equation. Readings are quickly drawn with the swipe of a scanner and those values are immediately placed into your ERP and labeling software, no manual entry required. 

Blockchain Improves the Approval Process

We’ve discussed before the power behind blockchain in regards to food traceability and food safety, but there are actually methods of incorporating the ledger into barcode enabled label printing to improve food recall solutions. Blockchain’s peer to peer network means all changes to things such as the barcode label templates we mentioned must be approved by authenticated users. A detailed history of all these changes is also maintained, meaning any issues can be traced back and pinpointed regardless of when it happened or who is responsible.

And in conjunction with your cloud-based label printing, special approval privileges can be given to employees managers know are qualified to make edits to these label templates. Even when these changes are made, the entire supply chain can be notified, meaning more eyes capable of catching issues in labeling quickly and responsively. 

Authentication Hardware Gives Access Only to Those Qualified

The problem with working across several networks naturally becomes a lack of communication as well as cybersecurity concerns. Both cybersecurity and assurance that the right people  are creating labels can be achieved through user authentication hardware such as RFID scanning and CAC readers. 

Blockchain ledgers, though they may allow for peer to peer editing, don’t do much in terms of actually confirming the identity of those accessing information, they simply ensure the right computer is accessing it. Authentication hardware built into industrial HMI panels, tablets, and even computers given out to employees working from home bypass this issue by confirming the identity of the person behind the screen. And these identity-confirming programs can be further empowered by creating a multi-factor authentication process — one that asks for multiple indicators of identity such as an RFID badge AND some kind of biometric identifier such as a face scan or fingerprint scan. The more these authentication peripherals can be consolidated onto one device, the more likely it is that only those that are qualified and who you want accessing your network are actually the ones being granted access.   

Food Recall Solutions Call for Resiliency and Authentication

Food recalls happen. It’s unlikely we’ll reach a point where they’re completely eliminated as processing food will always involve juggling several variables such as food ripeness, supply chain partnerships, seasonal produce, and more. Thankfully, by including these recommendations into your food recall solution, you not only highly diminish the chances of food recalls brought on by controllable variables, you also leave yourself more prepared to react should a recall occur. For more information on the kind of hardware that can aid in your creation of an effective food recall solution, contact an expert from Cybernet today.