Food Recalls of 2023 and How The UK Compared

Global Food Recalls 2023

The UK has seen a decrease in product recalls by approximately 24% from 2022 to 2023. These were still mainly due to single events such as allergen withdrawals due to incorrect packaging. This is when the product being run down the line is placed into the wrong packaging or an incorrect label, not matching the product, is placed on the pack. This is usually due to human error (mis-picking) or packaging being mixed or “spliced” incorrectly by the packaging supplier and changing half way through!!!

This could result in fatal consequences if the consumer suffers from an allergic reaction due to undeclared ingredients. As a minimum, the product cannot be sold in store and will result in loss of sales, product being destroyed and costs for replenishment of stock and potential retailer fines.

This decrease in the UK, we believe in part, is due to the use of label verification (Autocoding) systems in manufacturing sites, over a period of approximately 20 years. The 2D code on packaging, for label verification, started to be introduced on packaging around 2005. Faedah Solutions’, Wayne Johnson, was actively involved in introducing UK retailers to the idea of adding 2D codes onto cheese packaging artwork to ensure the correct packaging to the right products, when he was a site Technical Manager. It wasn’t until around 2009 when retailers Codes of Practice started to be introduced to manufacturers to introduce systems into their facilities.

Although this has been a steady flow of installations over many years by a few integrators, mainly larger facilities, not many systems cover Co-packers (facilities that pack products for others) or smaller sites that hand pack products on tables, but these cover a large proportion of food companies in the UK.

However, entry level systems are now available to cover these facilities. Whether this is a portable system that can both read the date codes on the packs and scan the pack barcodes to confirm both are correct or a portable scanning and / or printing system that can be easily deployed on co-packer / SME lines to scan the packaging and / or print dates on the packs. These give the flexibility the sites require and the entry cost point that fit into the budgets of smaller sites.

The design of such systems makes it much easier to install on sites and used by operators. The tablet-based system, use a local database to hold product information. This allows the system to be fully portable and used anywhere in the factory, without the need for Wi-Fi connections. The inbuilt camera is used to take a photo of the date code on the pack. This is then read by the system and matched against the data held against the products shelf-life. If incorrect it alerts the operator that it is wrong. The system also scans the pack barcodes and checks them against the database information. The mobile database is synced back to the main database to ensure backup of data.

For co-packing sites with lines and printers, a more semi-fixed solution may be better. A moveable line terminal with a scanner connection mounted on the line to read the pack barcodes. This allows flexibility for the sites to move the equipment around to where it is needed. This also helps to comply with customer COP’s which their customers must comply with, even when using co-packers.

For larger sites a more all-encompassing system may be better. Deploying a central database on site, which holds the product information, barcodes, date codes, product photo’s etc., links the required information for the product being run to the shop floor equipment and the operators, via a line side HMI. In-line scanners scan every piece of packaging (with a unique 2D code on) to ensure the correct packaging & version of packaging is being used for the product being run down the line. Any incorrect packaging scanned, results in an alarm being raised and the line stopped, preventing incorrect packaged product leaving the line / site.

Direct connection to product printers (date codes / pack information) ensures the correct information and date codes are printed onto every pack, eliminating the human error of applying incorrect dates on packs. With one central connection for printer data, this not only reduces errors but speeds up the line setup process, thus potentially increasing line efficiency.

Vision systems have improved greatly over the years and can be added to production lines to automate manual quality checks such as colour, missing parts, bottle cap checks, bag stitching, pallet checks and many more applications.

With the ability to add product photos, to help operators match the correct packaging, and to electronically capture line checks, thus reducing paperwork from the shop floor, the system can help reduce ongoing costs and ensure a robust Quality Management System. It can greatly speed up traceability using electronic records which can be accessed in seconds, rather than finding paperwork which has been archived.

Faedah Solutions Ltd and their team of experts, have been helping the UK market with such systems for several years.

While the UK has seen a decline in the number of recalls, the USA has seen an increase by 17%, 43% of those being single events such as allergens, due to mis-labelling. Packaging Verification Systems Inc. is helping to tackle this problem in the US with similar systems as described above.

For further information on how Faedah Solutions Ltd or Packaging Verification Systems Inc. can help you on preventing these errors, please contact either or

For further information on the global recalls please visit

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