Use Cases

The examples below are real world cases where RQA has used our different services to solve specific client problems and add value to their businesses. Contact us to learn how RQA, Inc. can assist your company.

Please click on each use case below to see the details of each project and the results achieved for the client.

A non-dairy milk company had a recall due to trace amounts of dairy milk in their product. The company needed to perform recall effectiveness checks to comply with FDA requirements. RQA was hired to visit a sampling of stores across the U.S. to assure that product had been removed from retail shelves. A total of 322 stores were visited in three days. Any affected product found was purchased, removed, and destroyed off site with documentation. The result meant the company could swiftly assure that FDA requirements were met, and consumers were protected.

A pet food company had a recall of dog food due to elevated levels of a specific vitamin. The company engaged RQA to conduct the recall at retail locations, veterinary clinics, and independent pet stores in the U.S. and Canada. RQA visited thousands of locations, including 4,075 U.S and 698 Canadian veterinary clinics, in 90 days to remove 26 SKU’s and destroy affected product off site with supporting documentation.

A juice company had a recall due to spoilage and needed products returned from their customers. RQA provided management, field services, and administrative support to assist with scheduling and documenting return shipments of recalled product. RQA provided a receiving and storage facility for shipments from customers. For each shipment received, the total quantity and weight for each lot code was documented. RQA arranged transportation to a landfill for witnessed destruction, with a video recording of each load and a certificate of destruction with photos. Corrugated case materials were recycled. A total of 404 pallets were transported to a warehouse, inventoried, and then destroyed at a landfill in three weeks.

A multinational beverage company was faced with a recall of single serve bottles that may contain plastic pieces. RQA was contracted to provide product recovery at retail and destruction services. The recall involved 698 retail site visits that were completed in 10 days. The recovered product was further inspected to validate the level of contamination. All product with affected code was poured out through a strainer, and foreign material was photographed, measured and reported to the client to support its insurance claim.

A major grocery chain with ~350 stores was experiencing documented compliance with recall notices from approximately 70% of its stores. There was no central management system for tracking recalls and affected product would sometimes be on the shelf for sale up to a week after the notification. The client was seeking a consistent process for validating that recall procedures were followed accurately by their stores, and in a timely manner. RQA implemented an Effectiveness Check program to visit 100% of the stores in Class I recall situations and a percentage of stores for Class II recalls. The store chain incurred no cost as they passed the service charges from RQA on to the recalling manufacturer. Store performance improved from 70% compliance to over 99% compliance after just three months. RQA’s detailed reports provided the retail chain documentation, including photos and store manager signatures, that the recall was properly executed, and no product remained available for sale. The ongoing results are now part of each store manager’s annual performance review.

A baby stroller company received occasional consumer complaints that strollers were not working properly. They needed to remove the strollers from consumers’ homes to prevent potential injury and satisfy the consumer. They turned to RQA who retrieved strollers and destroyed them to prevent future use and potential injury, typically within 24 to 28 hours. The consumers received compensation for a replacement stroller and the company prevented potential injury to their consumers.

A nutritional beverage company that sells direct to consumers wanted to evaluate its new product packaging after shipping to consumers. They hired RQA to retrieve a percentage of consumer complaints and ultimately they made improvements to the product packaging and shipping materials. This resulted in improved consumer satisfaction and a reduction in consumer complaints and costly returns.

A cereal company received a foreign material complaint from a consumer indicating that the alleged foreign material caused damage to their tooth and seeking compensation for their dental work. The company used RQA to retrieve the foreign material from the consumer and had the RQA Food Forensics™ laboratory identify the foreign material. Results indicated that the object could not have come from their product and must have come from another source. The result helped the company save money by denying the dental claim.

A CPG company’s Product Development department needed help getting products to several market research facilities to do a shelf life study. The objective was to see if consumers could tell the difference in the quality of their product at certain age ranges. The company used RQA’s product retrieval service to pick up products at retail from 10 different cities with three different specific expiration date ranges. This enabled the company to complete its internal study as designed.

A testing lab that worked with a fast food restaurant chain needed frozen yogurt samples from restaurant locations around the country to test for E. coli. The lab partnered with RQA to take samples of the frozen yogurt at hundreds of restaurants on a specific schedule throughout the year. The samples were packed in coolers with dry ice for sample integrity and shipped overnight to the lab. This partnership allowed the client to ensure its patrons were not at risk for infection and reduce company liability.

A Food Service baking company was having difficulty getting competitive food service products for benchmarking. The company engaged RQA to purchase the food service products from distributors as an independent third party. This enabled the company’s sales and marketing teams to gather essential data and properly position their products in the market.

A major tobacco company was experiencing elevated consumer complaints due to counterfeit products being sold in the marketplace. Incidence rates as high as 15% were estimated for major metropolitan areas which equated to millions of counterfeit cigarette packs available for sale. RQA worked closely with the Brand Integrity, Marketing Information, and Consumer Research teams to implement a strategy to disrupt and reduce this illicit activity. A covert sampling program was formed, which included RQA representatives posing as casual shoppers, purchasing cigarettes, and documenting with affidavit of purchase, digital photos, and GPS coordinates to validate the location of purchase. The cigarettes were then delivered to RQA facilities where they were tested for authenticity. When counterfeit products were identified, the evidence was provided to the client legal team and cease and desist letters were sent to the retailers who sold the products. Over a four-year program, RQA identified over 5,000 retailers selling counterfeit/contraband products. The work done by RQA helped to significantly reduce the number of retailers that were selling counterfeit products.

The Honey industry was concerned that fraudulent products were having a negative effect on their business as honey is one of the most adulterated foods on the market. They used RQA’s product retrieval service to purchase specific honey products from specific market areas. The products were purchased packed and shipped for testing to help identify products that may be making false claims. The result protected honey brands by insuring consumers received the quality product purchased.

A tequila manufacturer was concerned that counterfeit tequila was being distributed to bars and restaurants with their brand name on the bottles. Each bottle was hand made with a unique serial number on the bottle. To identify where the counterfeit product was being served the manufacturer hired RQA to visit specific bars and restaurants, engage in conversation with the bartenders, and to discreetly inspect and record the serial number on the bottles. The data RQA provided allowed the manufacturer to identify and take action with the locations that were serving counterfeit product.

A cookie manufacturer was exploring how a new packaging tray could reduce the amount of breakage in their product at the retail level. RQA performed a national quality audit in which samples were purchased for an at home evaluation by the auditors. A statistically significant number of samples were procured with both old and new packaging, and then evaluated for breakage. Detailed photos and measurements of the breakage were provided to determine percentage of breakage for each package. The audit proved that the new packaging tray did have a significant impact on the amount of breakage for the product. A follow-up audit was performed six months later once all the new packaging trays had reached distribution. Breakage was proved to be reduced by nearly 40% from the addition of the new packaging tray.

A health food manufacturer was interested in getting into the health snacks category with online retailers. They were specifically concerned about how well their protein puff products would maintain consistent physical stability when shipped directly to consumers. Breakage was the primary concern. RQA developed a nationwide sampling program in which competitive puff products were purchased online and delivered direct to RQA auditors from 25 different areas spanning the US market. When the packages arrived, each sample was opened, contents photographed, and the products were separated into three breakage categories by severity. Each category was weighed to determine a percentage of breakage by category. The results of the audit were utilized by the client to set a baseline acceptability level for breakage expectations on packages shipped from online retailers.

A high-end restaurant franchise was having concerns about procedural compliance by their bar staff. They were interested in understanding if their bartenders were properly greeting customers, providing suggestions for daily specials, and accurately charging for drinks ordered. RQA field auditors were dispatched, posing as normal customers at each restaurant, to document the experience. Less than 50% of the bar staff were observed following the restaurant’s procedural guidelines. The results were shared with management at each individual restaurant to help guide ongoing training of their bar staff. A follow-up audit was performed one month later with over 90% compliance with proper procedures observed. The audit is now performed quarterly to provide metrics for continuous improvement for the bar staff.

A leading US spirits producer encountered an issue with a bottle defect produced by a supplier that could have compromised their product safety. Approximately 210,000 cases of product were shipped to DC locations across the US. RQA was dispatched to 15 market areas across 13 states to setup an inspection and re-packing program. Over 6 weeks, more than 5 million bottles were inspected. Defective mold codes were removed and destroyed. The remaining product was resealed and made available for resale. With only a 1.9% defect rate there was a significant benefit with remediation, including product cost and potential production and customer issues. The client saved over one million dollars by not having to destroy all its product.

A global confectionery company had produced a mixed Halloween variety bag with an incorrect declared weight. They needed a remediation solution so they could honor the holiday product they promised their customer and avoid being fined for the incorrect weight statement. With very little time until Halloween, they engaged RQA to assist with the market correction. RQA visited all stores where the product was available for sale and re-labeled the product both on the shelf and in the back stockrooms. RQA worked with the pharmacy chain to complete over 5,000 site visits throughout the United States, including Puerto Rico. This solution helped our client to both remediate the issue and strengthen their relationship with the retail customer.

A pool salt manufacturer was getting complaints from a Home Improvement Store chain that their cardboard end aisle displays were leaning and falling apart. The manufacturer hired RQA to visit the stores and take photos of the displays to assess the situation. After the manufacturer reviewed the results, RQA returned to make corrections to the displays at 665 stores, completing this project within one week. The manufacturer and the store chain were satisfied that the promotion was saved.

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