Beef Grief: Taco Bell Recall Leaves Customers Pining for Meat

October 16, 2019
Harris Allgeier

Photo by sarayut from Getty Images Pro

Where’s the beef?! Not at many taco bell locations in the Midwest, northeast, and southeast United States. The Mexican fast food giant has had to recall a staggering 2.3 million pounds of seasoned ground beef from restaurant and distribution centers. The reason for the recall? Ground metal shavings appearing in tacos and burritos, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Um. Ouch.

The beef was traced back to a single producer, Ohio-based company Kenosha Beef, which recalled a “underdetermined amount of seasoned beef products” produced between late September and early October. The beef had been sent to distribution centers in Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Virginia.

Total Recall

The recall was prompted by three customer complaints and the food chain has discarded the beef used by all the restaurants that received it. According to the USDA, there have been no reports of injury or illness stemming from Taco Bell beef consumption.

“Nothing is more important than our customers’ safety, and nothing means more to us than their trust,” said Julie Masino, North American president for Taco Bell. “As soon as we received the first consumer complaint, we immediately acted to remove the product from the affected restaurants and proactively worked with the supplier to inform the USDA of our steps to protect our guests.”

Chain Chain Chain…Chain of Beef?

The beef recall isn’t Taco Bell’s first brush with supply chain issues: just this year the company found itself running short of tortillas due to a supplier issue, temporarily denying customers the pleasure of a Crunchwrap Supreme (the undisputed best item on Taco Bell’s menu). Both these challenges illustrate the complex nature of supply chains and the potential pitfalls of relying on a single supply source. Had Taco Bell identified contingency suppliers for the regions reliant on Kenosha beef, they may have been able to mitigate the ensuing disruption to consumers.

How to become “Recall Ready”

Preparedness for a food recall begins with understanding your supply chain. For example, Taco Bell definitively knows who’s providing them with beef, but what about the companies and individual farms behind companies like Kenosha Beef? Knowing of a labor or manufacturing issue that affects a sub-tier supplier, could help companies like Taco Bell proactively address issues before they impact consumers. You should also:

  • Create a recall plan of action in advance, one that specifies contingencies, and helps logistics partners understand their responsibilities in the eventuality a recall occurs
  • Create a preemptive strategy for recalled product disposal. Where are you putting it and whose responsibility is it?

Recall-preparedness also means understanding supplier concentration/resiliency, i.e. how dependent your businesses is on a single vendor, and how resilient that vendor is to things like natural disasters, machinery failures, labor issues, and so on.

But how?

A total supply chain monitoring solution that contextually evaluates and scores the health of your supply chain AND updates those scores in near-real time while notifying you of disruptive events would fit the bill. Which is a huge coincidence because we just so happen to have one of those.

Interos, the world’s leading (and only) AI-powered supply chain risk management platform. Check out the rest of our site to learn more.

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