SmartLabel: Leveraging Technology Can Support a Modernized Recall Process

SmartLabel aims to play a critical role in how brand owners communicate with consumers when timeliness and trust are paramount.  

SmartLabel Expands the Information Available to Consumers 

SmartLabel, developed by the CPG industry and used by consumers, is the preeminent consumer transparency digital platform for brands to display mandated and voluntary product information. Currently, 79 parent companies participate in the SmartLabel program, representing more than 1,000 brands and 100,000 products across all CPG categories, the largest being food and beverage. SmartLabel data and information is maintained by the participating brands and is accurate and up to date because it comes directly from the manufacturers to the consumer.  

SmartLabel supplements federally required labeling information with voluntary details that go beyond the package label, like ingredient definitions and sourcing information, links to allergy prevention and management resources and sustainability attributes and practices. The voluntary information in SmartLabel spans ingredients, product claims, certifications and disclosures. A national consumer survey with 1,000 respondents conducted in 2021 by the Consumer Brands Association and FMI found that consumers are interested in product information beyond what is required on the on-pack label. Consequently, SmartLabel labeling provides the product information consumers desire to help make informed decisions about the CPG products they purchase, including timely information affected by supply chain interruptions and variances.  

SmartLabel data is displayed in a consistent five-tab template for all product categories and includes all FDA-mandated information that would be required to appear on the physical package label. SmartLabel complies with GS1 data standards (sourced via the Global Data Synchronization Network, or GDSN) for all attributes displayed on the platform. SmartLabel pages also comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C’s) Web Accessibility Initiative, which partners with organizations around the world to provide a high degree of internet usability for people with disabilities. Consumers interacted with the SmartLabel platform 1.7 million times in the first half of 2023. 

SmartLabel Provides Product Recall Information in Near Real-time 

Platforms like SmartLabel provide the CPG industry with a ready-made tool to display product recall information. In the 2021 survey, 70% of consumers shared they were concerned about missing a recall notice. 57% of consumers said they expect recalls to be communicated by the brand owner. With SmartLabel, participating brand owners can leverage SmartLabel to inform consumers in near real time that a product has been recalled. As illustrated below, after scanning the SmartLabel QR code on a product, the consumer can be informed that the product has been recalled by a recall banner at the top of the SmartLabel landing page. (The product image in the header can be clicked to provide an enlarged view of the packaging to aid the consumer in determining if the product in hand is the same).  

Clicking on the Recall Alert Banner at the top opens a second window that allows the consumer to access pertinent and granular information about the product recall, including why the product is being recalled, which products are affected, relevant code date and manufacturing information for affected products and contact information for the recalling firm where consumers can learn more. If an edit to the recall notice is required, the brand owner can simply make a single change in SmartLabel and all outlets that leverage the SmartLabel API (application programming interface) will also be updated in near real time. 

Three smartphones display the different pages of SmartLabel's product recall alert system: the first device shows the product and its nutritional information, the second device displays the product and a drop down list of recall information and the third device shows the expanded recall information.

What is the nature of the recall? An explanation of why the product is being recalled. 

Which products are affected? A thorough description of the affected products with details such as the statement of identity, UPC code, size(s) of the products being recalled, the code date (date mark) and the manufacturing code. 

Where do I find the code date and manufacturing code on the package? A graphic showing the consumer exactly where the code date and manufacturing code can be found on the physical package. 

Where can I get more information? Customer support contact information for the consumer to learn more. 

For brand owners, this is a powerful way to communicate directly with consumers during a recall. For consumers, this is a fast and convenient way to check if a product is recalled that consumers can easily access across devices including smartphones, tablets and computers, and through a variety of different channels. Consumers can scan SmartLabel QR codes on packages using the native camera app or any QR code scanning application, or the UPC bar codes using the SmartLabel phone app to arrive at the SmartLabel landing page. SmartLabel pages can also be searched and accessed using the SmartLabel product database. Finally, SmartLabel pages may be available on company and product websites and through e-commerce platforms, meaning there are myriad ways the consumer can find the SmartLabel page to be informed about the product recall alert. 

SmartLabel is also compatible with all CPG products and can be used to facilitate recalls for nearly all FDA-regulated products including foods, cosmetics and non-prescription drugs.