Castle Importing, Inc. is an Italian family business with roots in the cheese industry dating back more than half a century. The company's name is derived from the family's hometown of Castellammare del Golfo in northwest Sicily. Originally, their business focused on the processing of the standard sizes of hard Italian cheeses and then expanded to include custom cheese blends, private label programs and a line of high-quality Mediterranean olive oil products. Currently, with its state-of-the-art processing facility (over 70,000 square feet), Castle has expanded its product line with cheeses that can be processed into an infinite variety of packaging options for both retail and wholesale markets.
Manual "Pen-and Paper" Tracking Method Proves Unwieldy and Imprecise
As a large-scale producer of grated and shredded cheeses, as well as custom blends, Castle Importing, Inc. employs a highly complex procurement, production, packaging and shipping cycle that culminates in the delivery of finished products to its retail and wholesale customers.
Freshness and food safety are of paramount importance to Castle and to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which mandates that all food processing companies have the capability to "trace" every "ingredient" in their "recipes" -- commencing with the initial purchase of raw materials from their vendors through sales, production, packaging and shipping.
In the food industry, despite all possible precautions, the potential for a product recall is always present, and if a recall is warranted, it behooves a food-based company to have fully integrated systems in place in order to "trace" the exact cause of the problem and to take immediate corrective action. Until recently, Castle Importing utilized a manual "pen-and-paper" approach to conduct the tracing procedure required in the event of a product recall, which proved increasingly time-consuming, labor-intensive and risky as the company grew.
According to Castle Importing vice president Rosangela Borruso, "Whenever we conducted a "mock" product recall, we had to assemble a team of at least five co-workers to painstakingly examine scores of logs that contained records of receipts of raw materials, production data (including labeling and packaging), sales and customer data (including any special instructions) and shipping information. Since our systems were manual, it took too long to pinpoint the cause of the recall and the exact quantities involved in our simulation." (continued...)