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Labeling

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#1 Stacy_qc

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 01:02 AM

I am in need of some advice and help. I am newly appointed to the task of checking labels and specifications to verify they are correct. I have found out the previous employee who had this task created incorrect labels and specifications. The ingredients are wrong and/or in the wrong order. I brought this to the attention of management who is against changing them due to the fact we will have to notify our customers which will cause a lot of problems. The previous employee did incorrect compositions or none at all. They didn't evaluate the recipe when creating labels and specifications. There are numerous wrong labels and specifications. Management wants me to leave them and if found state we thought we were doing it correctly. I have the job of signing off to say they were verified as correct now. I'm stuck and need advice on what to do. I also want to know what the implications are in my end and if I can legally be in trouble knowing they are incorrect. If management won't let me change them I don't know what my next step should be.



#2 earthbornstew

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 06:54 AM

Hi Stacy_qc

My own initial thought is that you’ll have to dig your heels in on this one and not sign off on the labels. Majority of recalls of products I see in market and because of mislabeling or undeclared allergens, which the latter I think is more serious.

Now maybe you could expand on what issues you are seeing with the labels, spell it out for management how serious some of them are and what the implications are. For example, undeclared allergens or missing ingredients should be top of the list. Ingredients in the wrong order but all accounted for could be lower down.

If you did a quick google I think you could find plenty of examples that could be shown to them.


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#3 Madam A. D-tor

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 09:41 AM

Dear stacy-qc,

 

I agree with previous post.

 

If private labels are involved, explain the problems you will have if the private label owners find out them selves. You will loose the business.

If the amount of the major ingredients in your product do not comply to the labeling (or specification), you are actually involved in food fraud. Selling something different than agreed or declared. It seems that your management is OK with this fraud. Point this out to the management. commercially it is easier to overcome a food safety issue than a food fraud issue.


Kind Regards,

Madam A. D-tor

#4 Stacy_qc

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 10:19 AM

I have pointed out what is wrong to management and the consequences. Luckily none of them are allergens. They are in the wrong order or have ingredients listed that are not in the product. I have also went over the consequences with them as to what happens if they are found incorrect. I have explained to them that I have to sign off on these that I checked them and they are accurate. I also want to know if this is something I could potentially go to jail for and how I can cover myself to assure I am not going to take the fall. I'm sure if it came down to it they would blame me and act like they knew nothing about it. They notified one customer before I was involved who now wants them to pay for all the labels for their products and the labels for their customers products. So they don't want to notify anyone else.



#5 t3hpr0phet

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 03:19 PM

Its a bit extreme but you might consider making them aware of the Peanut Corporation of America's investigation and what happened to the management of that company when they tried to cover up their mistakes.

 

http://www.foodsafet...e/#.WjKQLFWnG71

https://en.wikipedia...tion_of_America

 

I think that you definitely want to do everything you can to cover yourself but I don't know how much that will help.  "I was just following orders" doesn't tend to work in my experience.  I don't know what your situation is but if you can put your foot down and risk getting fired then I would do it.  My thought is better to be fired for refusing to do something you know is wrong than be fired and blamed for doing something wrong(especially when you were the one saying it was wrong).  Assume that the 'S' will roll down hill.



#6 ece.ellis

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 04:53 PM

I would certainly put my foot down and not sign - you would be held partially responsible when (not if) the truth comes out.  Another option as well is contacting the FDA, as they occasionally will grant exceptions and allow you to utilize obsolete labels depending upon the circumstances - a colleague of mine did this a year or so ago when a supplier changed their ingredients without prior notification.



#7 FurFarmandFork

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 05:13 PM

If management wants to participate in a "business decision", make them put it in writing and don't put your name on it. If they're truly okay with it then they'll put it in writing. If no one wants to write it down then you shouldn't have to either.

 

This is a hard-line for my and my management team all the way to the CEO knows it. If we want to make a business decision where we have information and are willfully disregarding it then they can ask me to work with the decision, but they cannot ask me to put my name on it or participate in the "final call".

 

Honestly with no food safety risk, depending on the situation I might agree with management and put a plan in place to correct either the labels or the formulations over a longer period of time (sneak them into artwork updates etc.). However again, any signature I put in place would have an asterisk with something to the effect of "approved to print per [name, job title]." That way you don't bork your procedure but indicate that the signature was an approval to print by management, not by your regulatory review.

 

The nature of the missing/incorrect ingredients is pretty critical here in terms of evaluating risk for food fraud. If you're breaking some sort of certification like organic, then this is a big deal. If the sub-ingredients for flavors you're using don't include "salt", or you switched to a different tomato supplier that has a preservative, then less so (depending on market and label claims).


Austin Bouck
Owner/Consultant at Fur, Farm, and Fork.
Consulting for companies needing effective, lean food safety systems and solutions.

Subscribe to the blog at furfarmandfork.com for food safety research, insights, and analysis.

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#8 Stacy_qc

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 06:23 PM

The labeling information is incorrect because the ingredients are not in the correct descending order by weight. Some also have ingredients that are not in the product but are declared on the label.  There are no special claims as organic etc in the products.  All allergens and sensitizing agents such as yellow 5 and sulphites etc are declared on the labels.



#9 Charles.C

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 01:31 AM

Hi Stacy,

 

There are several related threads to this one on this Forum. None are easy to respond to in a generic way because the situations for people involved are often dissimilar, eg - How long have you worked in this location ?, Can you afford to lose yr job ?, Does the Company have an established culture of "business compromises" ? How long have the current discrepancies been known and ignored ? Are the defects within the analytical margin of error ?  etc, etc

 

Assuming you are in a position like QA Mngr, one (textbook?) answer to OP is that yr job is solely to report/sign for the facts to the designated "Top Management" person  higher up on the Org.Chart. Subsequent actions are the responsibility of the "Company".

 

As you, and many others here have found the business reality can be rather different. The info. as currently mentioned in this thread is rather limited, eg the extent of any consequent financial "hit",  but so far does not convince me that a compromise is justifiable.

 

Good Luck !


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#10 FurFarmandFork

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 06:48 PM

The labeling information is incorrect because the ingredients are not in the correct descending order by weight. Some also have ingredients that are not in the product but are declared on the label.  There are no special claims as organic etc in the products.  All allergens and sensitizing agents such as yellow 5 and sulphites etc are declared on the labels.

Then honestly I wouldn't be super concerned...that said people with weird allergies exist and you could still certainly hurt someone potentially if you are failing to declare something that is present. But the "decending order" thing really provides very little information to consumers, so there's not much "misleading" you can do there depending on the specifics. If the ingredients not in the product are value-added, like (now with vitamin B!) then that's a slightly bigger deal from a consumer perspective...but your company liability is really low here, and the issues you're describing are very common, especially in smaller companies. Think of it as "may contain peanuts", depending on the ingredient, extra ingredients on your label can put your company at a disadvantage rather than an advantage.

 

There are a lot of labels with fats in them for example that have statements like "vegetable oil, may contain one or more of the following: canola, soybean, safflower..." the consumer doesn't necessarily know whether all of those are present in that particular product.

 

Again, this all very much depends on the product, the consumer expectations of your product, and what ingredients in question. but based on the information you provided it sounds like there is very little risk here.


Austin Bouck
Owner/Consultant at Fur, Farm, and Fork.
Consulting for companies needing effective, lean food safety systems and solutions.

Subscribe to the blog at furfarmandfork.com for food safety research, insights, and analysis.

#11 Psych6

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 05:16 PM

The labeling information is incorrect because the ingredients are not in the correct descending order by weight. Some also have ingredients that are not in the product but are declared on the label.  There are no special claims as organic etc in the products.  All allergens and sensitizing agents such as yellow 5 and sulphites etc are declared on the labels.

Well, I think you're not going to jail beacuse you're not legal representat of the business... decision finally corresponds to General Managament. Of course, you have to inform about consecuences and emphasize situations like posibility of recall (if allergens are undeclared, for example).

 

This mislabelling is a common deal, specially when you reformulate the product, add ingredients, or something like that. I advise you to make a list (an excel, maybe) and prioritize. If you have undeclared allergen or undeclared artificial colourings it's a serious problem and requiere inmediate attention. Other minor problems could wait to a renewal of artwork or depletion of label stock.

 

For ingredients in not correct order, products are under FDA regulation? I remember that if you put before "Less of 2% of... (ingredients)" you don't have to put them in order. Good luck.



#12 redfox

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Posted 22 December 2017 - 01:28 AM

Hello Stacy_qc

 

There plenty of recalls happened due to mislabeling especially undeclared allergens. It is very costly.

 

Since you sign off for the verification you are morally and legally liable to it. How far your manager catch you when you fall on that pit?

 

 

regards,

redfox







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