A product recall is every business and brand owner’s worst nightmare. The impact can be devastating. Financial loss due to recovering stock and lost future sales, damage to brand reputation and risking the health and safety of consumers.
Adam Harris, from Harris Smokehouse, a fourth-generation, family-owned business, and manufacturer of high-quality seafoods walked this path in August 2022.
Listeria monocytogenes, a pathogenic bacteria, was discovered during routine testing of their product.
Fortunately for Harris, his business is now back, stronger and better, with improved safety hurdles, whilst retaining the natural product positioning, integral to his brand and expected by consumers of smoked salmon.
Pivotal to Harris’ recovery and success, was hard work, diligence and partnership with a supplier who could step him through the process to keeping his smoked salmon safe from listeria and his labels free from artificial additives or preservatives.
Hear more about Harris’ story and the supplier who helped him through this recall.
Harris Smokehouse is known for its premium quality, delicious smoked seafoods, steeped in the tradition of 60 years of heritage.
Now owned by Harris and based in the Adelaide Hills, his business is based on the core values of Ethical, Sustainable and Natural.
When listeria was picked up during routine testing, two national recalls ensued. In Harris’ words, it was a horrific experience.
SA Health supported Harris and the business, providing them with three choices – try to continue to eliminate listeria as they had previously been doing, to add a chemical preservative, or to find a natural solution.
The first two choices were not real options for Harris, the experience of the recall had been the worst time in his life and the thought of adding chemical preservatives would go against his promise to consumers for the product to be transparent, honest and clear.
Harris chose the third option and decided to work with Chr. Hansen, a global biosciences company, with expertise in fermentation and the science and supply of good bacteria.
“We basically now have a team of good bacteria working for us, and we don’t pay them. We are fighting the bad guys with good guys”, said Harris.
Carlo Mason, business manager for Chr. Hansen in Australia explains further, “By putting specially selected cultures, our good bacteria, on the surface of the food in really high numbers they are able to outcompete spoilage or pathogenic bacteria and suppress their growth,” he said.
“It is nature’s way of keeping food safe and fresh and they do it through slow fermentation.”
“By adding these cultures, what we are doing is adding an extra layer of protection, that wouldn’t otherwise be there,” he added.
“That is especially important with ready-to-eat packaged foods, like salads, ham, hotdogs, and of course smoked salmon, like where we have helped Adam and the team at Harris Smokehouse.”
Fermentation has been happening for thousands of years, turning milk into yoghurt and grapes into wine.
Chr. Hansen is expanding the know- how and process of fermentation for bioprotective effect beyond traditional spaces like dairy, where the process is well established internationally.
This innovative approach is helping the wider food industry reduce reliance on food acids, chemicals and preservatives and help keep food fresh and safe for longer.
“Chr. Hansen were able to provide a natural solution that wouldn’t alienate our consumers, they had the scientific data and back-up, they had done all of the hard work and were respected for their science, and it was trusted,” said Harris.
“They steered us out of our troubles. “You don’t know what you don’t know. I don’t want anyone to go through this experience (a product recall).
“If I could take lessons from this and share, it would be – just take this proactive and preventative approach. Now we have learnt this, learn from us.
“You feel very alone when you go through this, you feel very overwhelmed.
“When you engage with people who do not feel overwhelmed because they have the knowledge and understanding, it is very comforting, and it is confidence inspiring.
“The team at Chr. Hansen were our knights in shining armour.”