How to Turn Recall Crisis into a Normal Business Process: Webinar Key Takeaways

August 9, 2021

By Jim Dudlicek, NGA Director, Communications and External Affairs

The inconvenience and even pain of recalls flows down the supply chain, landing squarely in retailers’ laps.

What if it didn’t have to be that way? How can the interruption be simplified, damage minimized and costs recovered? When recalls become a normal business process, crisis turns to confidence and everyone sleeps better at night.

NGA and recall management solution provider Recall InfoLink recently hosted a webinar exploring how to change the narrative around a recall crisis with simple process improvements, technology implementation and global connectivity, and offer an understanding of what a modernized and standardized recall process looks like, and a motivation for retailers to evaluate their recall process and make needed changes.

Panelists included David Acheson, president and CEO of The Acheson Group and a former associate commissioner at the FDA; Roger Hancock, president and CEO of Recall InfoLink; Jim Flannery, CEO of SummitVentures; and Bill Pohl, director of regulatory compliance for Boston-based Roche Bros. Supermarkets.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

Be prepared. According to Flannery, a typical supplier may experience a recall about once every three years, but a retailer – which handles products from a multitude of sources – might have one once a week. Grocers need to know exactly who’s in their upstream supply chain in order to better manage risk. “A recall is only as successful as the amount of information you’re able to get quickly,” Pohl said.

Act quickly but accurately. Accuracy is actually more important than speed, Flannery asserted – acting quickly means nothing if it’s based on wrong information. Regulators want to see proof you took necessary action. Further, Pohl noted, “You have to be ready to answer questions from customers.”

Know your partners. Your trading partners should also have recall procedures in place to help protect your common interests. Collaborating will minimize pain in the event of a recall. “The more prepared you are,” Acheson said, “the less pain there will be.”

All recalls aren’t the same. There’s no one-size-fits-all response to recalls, Acheson asserted. Having all the facts will help you determine if there’s any threat to public health, the extent of potential harm, and how deeply up the supply chain products must be pulled.

Your reputation is at stake. The retailer is the last line of defense for products on the shelf and most consumers won’t look beyond their grocery store when looking for someone to blame. So, it’s crucial that retailers stay ahead of the process. “There’s nothing worse than a consumer knowing about a recall and seeing the product still on the shelf,” Flannery remarked. Worse still, if someone is harmed by a recalled product, Acheson said, “You will get sued, even though all you did was put product on a shelf.”

To view this complete webinar, along with others in the series, visit