Back in October, we covered a public forum put on by the FDA concerning the future of food safety. Just recently, the FDA has released the transcripts from nearly every session, giving those of us in the food safety training industry plenty of material to dig through concerning their vision for the future of food safety in our country. This week we’d like to take a look at a few of the ideas presented at the New Ara of Smarter Food Safety meeting involving the use of product traceability technology to quickly find the source of foodborne illness outbreaks.
Achieving Smarter Food Safety in the Supply Chain Using product Traceability Software
When it comes to foodborne illness tracing, it would be ideal if the FDA and CDC could immediately identify the source of contamination. For example, if someone consumes tainted lettuce in Minnesota and becomes ill, the FDA could find out the source of the contaminated product in New Mexico and take immediate action. This isn’t exactly possible with the way the supply chain works today.
Raw food products come from many different parts of the country, and certified food managers may receive a shipment of greens from California one week and Arizona the next. In fact, there are many occasions where the warehouse run by your food supplier has very little information about where your product originated. In the case of an outbreak, it takes some time to figure out exactly where the tainted product came from, potentially leaving the door open for the further spread of illness.
The big question is; How can we solve this?
During a Smarter Food Safetypresentation on product traceability, a spokesperson from the software company FoodLogiq suggested that advanced software could be used to create a roadmap for the entire supply chain. This would mean that software could be used at all levels of the supply chain from growers and farmers to individual food service facilities such as restaurants and retail producers to instantly tell you the travel history of any given product from farm to fork. But is this feasible?
We think this is a great idea, but it would take time to implement. As it stands now, there is no one high-tech method being endorsed for product traceability. That means one shipper could use a different system than another, and along the way product can’t be traced due to conflicting systems. There also appears to be little incentive for smaller operations to use this software. Small one outlet restaurants and independent farmers have enough on their plate without having to research, purchase and maintain tracking software.
If the FDA Era of Smarter Food Safety vision can come up with a product traceability standard to track nearly every single ingredient, foodborne illness outbreaks can be easily contained. Do you think an overarching tracing system could be implemented to track product and stop outbreaks before they become widespread?