It is TIME TO ACT!
Way back in July of last year, the House passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act. A Senate version passed unanimous approval from committee in November. And improvement on food safety has been dead ever since. The current quagmire of health care reform and jobs bills has virtually paralyzed Washington. Meanwhile, recalls like the contaminated sausages in Rhode Island continue to be slow in tracing all impacted products. Rep Dingell recently asked the Senate to act. Please write your senator and tell them food safety is something they could easily all agree on.
Food tracking from ingredient to products is too slow.
A salmonella outbreak in November and December that lead to 8 deaths and sickened over 600 people caused Peanut Corporation of America to recall its products. Months later, products are still being identified as containing peanuts from PCA. With the total of over 3200 product, 450 separate company recall notices, and the cost of millions to companies, the search goes on to track forward and find all the uses of PCA peanuts in the food supply chain.
Food tracing to original sources is difficult.
A salmonella outbreak in April and May 2008 sickened over 150 people and caused the FDA on June 3rd to recall tomatoes and fresh tomato products. A week later authorities cleared the tomatoes as the cause, but yet still had no identified source. Finally, on July 21st the FDA announced that jalapeno peppers grown in Mexico were the cause. In the end, 1442 people from 40 states were sickened, falsely implicated tomato growers lost an estimated $450 million, and 12 weeks had gone by. Tomato growers continue to realize economic loss from the incorrect recall notice.
An Improved Scenario
The key issues frustrating the job of food safety agents are the inability to link food supply chain records, inaccuracy/errors in records and delays in obtaining essential data. With the WFT System these factors are directly addressed. In cases such as the salmonella outbreaks above, agents will create a traceback model in minutes from a database that is constantly verified for accuracy. They will quickly identify suspect sources, get representative samples, and do analytical tests which probably would have avoided the false tomato warning. With tremendously less effort, the true root supply issue would be verified in just days, not months. With complete and immediate forward tracking information, all products with PCA peanuts could be determined and removed from the supply chain within days instead of weeks and months. Deaths may have been avoided, thousands of people would not have been sickened and millions in revenues would have been saved.