A recall-ready California based distributor helped minimize the impact of the recall of 50,000 pounds of ground beef products.
The ground beef, produced by the National Beef Packing Company, was shipped in 40- to 60-pound cases. However, distributors often sell the individual 10-pound sleeves or chubs contained within the cases. The individual sleeves feature limited identification that can be difficult to read.
Bassian Farms, Inc., a distributor that carries National Beef products, was alerted that they received ground beef included in the recall.
Because Bassian Farms utilizes the Food Connex inventory management system, they were able to instantly track the sales of all affected product, including sales of the individual chubs, and notify the exact recipients without having to issue a blanket recall for all loose product sold since receiving the recalled cases.
“(We were) able to generate a quick and easy report which accurately identified individual tubes of ground beef that were bar coded from our new system, and accurately tracked by the reporting system, to the lot number of the master case they were taken out of a few days earlier,” said Dan Bassian of Bassian Farms.
Bassian Farms’ forward thinking to implement a labeling system for broken case sales prevented the impact of the meat recall from expanding. Whenever Bassian receives a product that is not bar coded from a producer, or when they break a case to sell individual pieces, they generate a bar code that caries forward the traceability information from the source case. This information is then captured during shipping by a hand-held scanner.
“This time the recall was on a low volume item. Realistically we could have run a sales report and recalled all the loose pieces sold, but the next recall might not be on a low volume item. Now we have peace of mind that we can identify individual pieces of product,” Bassian said.
This ability to track individual pieces allowed Bassian to confidently inform customers who had and who had not received the recalled meat. In this instance, not tracking the chubs would have only inflated the recalled volume slightly, but it would also have meant involving more customers, destroying more product and further eroding the confidence of the consumer.
The enhanced traceability and recall readiness came as part of a larger initiative to enable growth and increase capacity at Bassian Farms. A bottleneck in the shipping department had developed where a large amount of information was being handled by one key employee.
“Everything, every weight, every number was going through one guy’s fingertips. That was creating a bottleneck preventing the shipping department from going to the next level. Now the data capture and weights are getting done by everybody out there,” Bassian said.
That data capture included individual serial numbers, production dates and lot information for every item sold to each customer. The serial numbers and production dates were the key to a positive identification on the recall. This enables the key employee to focus on decision making duties rather than data entry increasing their ability to manage a larger number of orders.
“We are probably breaking even on the hours, but we have full traceability and we’ve moved the bottleneck away from shipping. This is going to allow us to double, triple and quadruple our volume. Right now we could double where we were in volume. Before implementing we were maxing out. This system has allowed us to move forward.”
The break-even hours represent the additional time being invested during receiving and warehouse maintenance to label product. The shipping is now running faster and more accurately enabling overall capacity to increase dramatically.
Paul Hernandez-Cuebas, President of Integrated Management Solutions the makers of Food Connex, was involved from the beginning with the design and implementation of the labeling and scanning solution at Bassian Farms.
“Over the last 25 years I’ve seen too many recalls balloon because of poor traceability and quality control. While I never want to see a company facing a recall, I’m glad Bassian Farms came through this recent recall so well,” Hernandez-Cuebas said.
For more information, please contact Paul Hernandez-Cuebas at 215-794-7008 x18.