subject of food traceability just keeps coming back up again and again.
It was an issue in the Salmonella contaminated tomatoes and/or peppers,
and it is a discussion whenever bioterrorism talks ensue. It is there in
Country of Origin Labeling debates and it fuels the fires for Animal Id
meat, and for ground beef specifically, the Food Safety and Inspection
Service (FSIS) continues to take heat at times for "not conducting
trace back activities to the source" of E coli 0157:H7. Yet in 2007
there were at least two recalls that were traced back to the slaughter
facility, and one of those facilities is still shuttered.
Since 2003, FSIS has used a program called the
System for Tracking E coli 0157:H7 Positive Suppliers (STEPS) as its
tracking mechanism for this pathogen. But this is only through FSIS or
AMS school lunch program testing.
is currently analyzing data collected last summer on this issue. See
The agency is also looking into using other sources of information
to significantly supplement the data base.
will be able to more easily capture information when the new Public
Health Information System (PHIS) of the future is up and running. But
until then, and even after then, the take home message today in this blog
is that many retail operations must do a better job of record keeping on
sources for their ground beef products. Many investigations are stopped
cold in their tracks by lack of documentation, and many recalls are
expanded to very large numbers for the very same lack of documentation.
FSIS's critics often state, you need to get to the source to stop the
problem, not the grinder. And as FSIS often states, if things don't
change for the better, they will pursue mechanisms to change behavior.
all play nice together and solve this problem?