Track-and-Trace: An Increasingly Critical Solution to Food Safety Concerns

As we look back on 2012, we are reminded that food safety remains an issue the food supply industry must overcome. Foodborne illnesses can be widespread, devastating persons, families and companies that handle food. For example, year-over-year we continue seeing the overwhelming effects of tainted cantaloupe. According to Bill Marler’s chart on cantaloupe outbreaks, from 2011 to August 2012, 308 cases of confirmed illnesses or deaths have been reported.1 The cantaloupe outbreaks caused financial woes for cantaloupe farmers like Jensen Farms, who announced bankruptcy this past spring after multiple lawsuits were filed against them as a result of their contaminated cantaloupe. But the financial trouble caused by massive outbreaks doesn’t stop with the farmers. As a result of food product rejection and recalls, the industry spends $7 billion annually on costs associated with internal reworking, commodity loss, inventory replacement, removing goods from shelves, lost sales and reputation or customer confidence repair.2

As discussed in previous blog posts, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011 to combat problems along the food supply chain. With FSMA, the FDA has greater authority over food recalls and will require those along the food supply chain to have a tighter handle on food safety as it is being transferred from field to fork. Among the new regulations, track-and-trace capabilities will be required so that products can be traced back to where they were received and tracked forward to where they were sent. For companies dealing with food products, they will soon be responsible for collecting a massive amount of data that can easily be shared at a moment’s notice. An ERP system will need to be implemented to help manage vast, complex information. itelligence’s it.CPG and it.trade are examples of robust SAP ERP solutions that can offer companies data compilation to comply with government requirements, with built in quality-management, supply chain optimization and, of course, food safety capabilities.

To learn more about FSMA and how ERP systems aid in track-and-trace capabilities, check out my recently published article on Food Safety Magazine’s website found here.

1 Marler Blog, “Cantaloupe, a Deadly Fruit – Again,” August 17, 2012, http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/cantaloupe-a-deadly-fruit-again/

2 Food Safety News, “The ROI of Food Safety and Quality Assurance Technology Solutions,” September 17, 2012, http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/09/the-roi-of-food-safety-and-quality-assurance-technology-solutions/#.UFdeVbJlQik

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