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What to Do If a Packaging Error Forces a Recall

Product recall sign.

Around 400 products are recalled every year by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Food Safety magazine calls product recalls “the food industry’s biggest threat to profitability.” That’s because they say the average recall costs about $10 million. Unfortunately, they also report food recalls have seen a four-fold increase in volume from just five years ago. 

The last thing any products company wants is to have a mistake in CPG packaging that causes a recall. But it happens. What will you do if it happens to you?

CPG Packaging and a Product Recall

Manufacturing automation provides a measure of control over CPG packaging. However, some companies have not invested in these advancements, which slows down the quality control process and increases the chance that something will be missed. What are the consequences of a potential recall caused by CPG packaging?

  • Ingredients can be critical in indicating the potential for food allergies. Making a mistake in your CPG packaging could harm or even kill your customers.
  • CPG packaging errors could also violate manufacturer laws or FDA rules, resulting in massive fines in addition to your recall.
  • The hazards are high not only for food but also for pharmaceuticals, which have very intricate details, small print, and bar codes. There’s a lot you can get wrong.

In order to mitigate the risk of a CPG packaging error that could lead to a recall, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the risks to consumers if there is an error?
  • Are there similarities between ingredients where one has an allergen, and the other one doesn’t?
  • How many labels and packaging are used?
  • How many production runs happen daily?
  • Are quality checks manual or automated?
  • Are packaging designs similar?

Any of these situations could signify a higher risk that your product may experience a packaging error that could lead to a recall. Identifying the risks will allow you to determine the steps necessary to mitigate those risks.

Pharmaceutical label.

Reducing the Risk of a CPG Packaging Recall

Obviously, all CPG packaging must comply with legal standards, such as allergens or ingredients. Any missing or inaccurate data ensures a costly recall later on. Training your front-line workers is critical to spot-checking the products to ensure that nothing is missed. Running quality checks is a critical part of the process to prevent recalls. 

Reducing the risk of human errors is just as important as ensuring your labels are printed accurately. More than 60% of FDA recalls are due to labeling errors; allergens are a particular stumbling block for CPG packaging designers. Checking your labels for the five FDA requirements is a critical part of quality control. If your label is missing any one of these, a product recall is in your future:

  • Product identity
  • Net contents
  • Nutrition facts
  • Ingredients or allergens
  • A signature line with contact information

To prevent any of these problems that lead to a product recall, follow these steps:

  • Define the change and new packaging quality control workflow clearly.
  • Generate reports at each stage of label production.
  • Inspect the art at each stage of label production.
  • Adopt technologies to automate manual processes.

PKG Brand Design is always on the forefront of new CPG branding and packaging initiatives; please subscribe to our blog for the latest package design industry news!


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