Baked foods suffer recalls at a relentlessly high rate. Data for the past eight years show that bakery products accounted for about 18% of all food recalls. Focusing on allergen recalls alone, baking represented about 35% of such, and there was no indication of improvement during this period.
The Food and Drug Administration is in the process of identifying “high-risk industries” for closer inspection and has unofficially indicated that an industry’s performance on allergens could be a factor.
“Allergen recalls are an ongoing issue in bakery products,” noted Len Heflich, contributing editor, Baking & Snack. “This frustrating situation is one the industry has invested significant time and money for programs and training to eliminate the risk of producing mislabeled products.”
In his report in the October issue, Mr. Heflich acknowledged recalls remain a persistent, complex problem. In addition to elements of risk occurring along the entire supply chain, the industry is composed of businesses that vary in size and resources.
“Baking operations range from small setups, in-store bakeries and medium-sized commercial bakeries to large, multi-plant baking companies. Each of these faces its own challenges,” he observed.
Fortunately, he added, the industry has responded quickly to recalls in the past. And organizations such as the American Bakers Association continue to openly share best practices, knowing that a recall negatively affects almost everyone in the baking industry.Yes, it’s not an easy problem, but the good news is that preventive expertise abounds in the industry. Bakers, Mr. Heflich said, just need to harness such expertise and make it a priority to end allergen issues once and for all.