Product recalls are a common occurrence in many industries. This is especially true for food and beverage, automotive manufacturing and pharmaceuticals where the products could directly endanger their purchasers if something is defective.
Recently, there was a nationwide recall on romaine lettuce that had social media in a frenzy and kept salad off of dinner plates all across the country. Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. in Santa Barbara County recalled several types of lettuce harvested November 27-30, 2018 due to being potentially contaminated with E. coli, a dangerous bacterial infection. Even the CDC issued alerts warning consumers now to buy romaine lettuce for several weeks.
Though this recall was dramatic and large in scale, it paled in comparison to some of the other product recalls over the last few decades. Here’s a look at the biggest product recalls of all time, starting with the 1982 Tylenol recall which resulted in 7 deaths.
The 10 biggest product recalls
|Rank||Recall||Cost (as of March 2018)|
|9||Peanut Corp. of America||$1B|
|8||Toyota Floor Mats||$3.2B|
|6||General Motors Ignition Switches||$4.1B|
|5||Samsung Galaxy Note 7||$5.3B|
|4||Firestone Tires and Ford||$5.6B|
|2||Volkswagen Diesel Engines||$18.3B|
|1||Takata Air Bags||$24B (and counting)|
Product recalls are generally a nightmare to manage and supply chain departments take most of the brunt. In order to ensure the public’s safety, mitigate the cost of the recall and get operations flowing normally again, supply chain professionals need to react quickly. To guarantee the best chance for a “successful” recall, logistics professionals need to be able to track and trace their orders down to the SKU level.
Being able to see where the affected product started, its journey through the supply chain, and where it eventually ended up is crucial. Companies with this level of visibility can identify the customers who received the recalled product and alert them without having to send a blanket message to the entire industry. This can save time and reduce the waste of recalling product that isn’t contaminated or defected.
Any time orders are consolidated or the product is touched is a risk to lose visibility. Transportation management systems (TMS) can be leveraged to retain visibility to orders down to the SKU level in real time. This means that companies with an ongoing recall can pinpoint the areas needing immediate attention and act quickly to minimize the negative impact. Establishing a method to track and trace orders is the best preventative method supply chains can take to prepare for potential recalls.