Food retailers and wholesalers are being offered web seminars and free subscriptions through the end of 2009 for the Rapid Recall Exchange if they subscribe by the end of October.

The marketing push by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and GS1, the nonprofit that put bar codes in grocery stores, for the new Rapid Recall Exchange is gaining traction.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which represents food, beverage, and consumer products companies, and the National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing independent retail and wholesale grocers, have both endorsed the Rapid Recall Exchange.

According to FMI and GS1, the new system will quicker and more accurate exchange of information between retailers, wholesalers, and suppliers during recalls.

“Rapid Recall Exchange represents industry consensus that a standardized product recall system is critical to enhancing effective communication,” says Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI president and chief executive officer.  “It is a system designed by the industry, and for the industry, which applies best practices and critical insight and expertise from industry partners and associations.”

GS1 U.S. CEO Bob Carpenter says the Rapid Recall Exchange will also benefit the public.  “It employs the same GS! Global standards that these companies already use to identify their products, stock their shelves, and accelerate checkouts, Carpenter says.  “Its ease of use and extensive functionality can improve speed and accuracy of recalls, which we all want.”

The Rapid Recall Exchange replaces the FMI Product Recall Portal.  That system had eight wholesalers, 45 retailers, and 40 manufacturers linked up.  They were automatically transferred to the Rapid Recall Exchange.

Retailers and wholesalers that sign up by Oct. 30th will be given free subscriptions through Dec. 31, 2009.  After that they will be charged “a nominal fee.” They can also sign up GS1 web seminars on Oct. 13th and 20th.

Both government and industry are moving to web.  Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rolled out “The Reportable Food Registry (RFR or the Registry).  That electronic portal is for industry to report to the federal government when there is a “reasonable probability that an article of food will cause serious adverse health consequences.”

It appears the Registry would come into play before there is a recall when FDA is tracking patterns and targeting inspections.

GS1’s John Keogh, in a comment on Logistics Viewpoints, said the Rapid Recall Exchange is “not a supply chain traceability solution” in that data is not uploaded for that purpose.  He responded to a writer who noted that while the U.S. Bioterrorism Act of 2002 requires supply chain records be provided within 24 hours, it took months to locate the spinach farms that were the source of the 2006 E coli outbreak.

The Rapid Recall Exchange also allows suppliers to send targeted information to retailers and wholesalers providing specific information on how to remove recalled products. It is also compatible with the Reportable Food Registry requirements because it includes:

Secure user authentication

Two-way messaging between trading partners

Internet access anywhere, anytime

E-mail alerts about new information

Prioritized information with UPC bar codes and product images

Verification of notification

Universal notification of Class 1 recalls

Targeted notification to specific customers

Consistent, reliable communications

Standardized forms, processes and instructions applying industry best practices