Friday, 27 March 2009 18:59

Source of Food: Unknown!

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Source of Food: Unknown!

Government investigators testing the nation’s food tracing system were able to follow only five out of 40 foods all the way through the supply chain, according to a report released. 

An investigation by the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office found that the records many companies keep are not detailed enough. And one-quarter of the company managers were totally unaware of record keeping requirements. The inspector general recommended that the FDA consider seeking stronger legal powers to improve the tracing of food.

The ability to trace food is a critical part of investigations into outbreaks of food-borne illness and would be crucial in a bioterrorism attack. Food companies are required by federal law to keep records that would allow investigators to follow suspect foods one step back and one step forward in the supply chain.

But an investigation by the Health and Human Services inspector general's office found that the records many companies keep are not detailed enough. And one-quarter of the company managers were totally unaware of the record keeping requirements.

"The food safety regulatory structure lacks an adequate traceability system," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who requested the investigation. "Traceability is a critical tool in our ability to identify the source of a food-borne illness outbreak."

In the test, government investigators bought 40 food items, including bottled water, eggs, oatmeal, tomatoes, fruit juice and yogurt. They then attempted to trace the items back from the retailer to the source.

They were only able to fully trace 12.5 percent of the items.

For 31 of the 40, investigators said they were able to identify the facilities that most likely handled the products.

And in the case of four items - 10 percent of the total - investigators were unable to identify the facilities than handled them.

Problems with tracing foods drew attention last summer after investigators from the Food and Drug Administration struggled for weeks to identify the cause of a salmonella outbreak initially blamed on tomatoes. No contaminated tomatoes were found, but the outbreak strain eventually was discovered in hot peppers from Mexico.

The inspector general's report said most facilities do not keep records with specific lot numbers that would facilitate the tracing of foods.

"For example, for one product - a bag of flour - the storage facility did not know the exact farms that contributed to the product and, therefore, had to give us information about every farm that provided wheat during the previous harvest season."

The report said 70 out 118 food facilities in the traceback test did not meet the FDA's record keeping requirements for information about suppliers, shippers and customers.

"In some cases, managers had to look through large numbers of records - some of them paper based - for contact information," the report said.

The inspector general recommended that the FDA consider seeking stronger legal powers to improve the tracing of food.

The FDA said it was reviewing the recommendations

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/26/AR2009032604210.html

Read 1025 times Last modified on Monday, 09 April 2012 21:44
Rich Wermske

My pedigree and bona fides are published elsewhere. That said, I respect that a few may wish to learn more about the private person behind the writing.  While I accept I am exceptionally introverted (tending toward the misanthropic), I do enjoy socializing and sharing time with like-minded individuals. I have a zeal for integrity, ethics, and the economics of both interpersonal and organizational behavior.

The product of multi-generational paternal dysfunction, I practice healthy recovery (sobriety date December 11, 2001).  I am endogamous in my close personal relationships and belong to a variety of tribes that shape my worldview (in no particular order):

☯ I participate in and enjoy most geek culture. ☯ I am a practicing Buddhist and a legally ordained minister. I like to believe that people of other spiritual/faith systems find me approachable.  I am a member of the GLBTQA community -- I married my long-time partner in a ceremony officiated by Jeralita "Jeri" Costa of Joyful Joinings on November 18, 2013, certificated in King County, Seattle WA. We celebrate an anniversary date of February 2, 2002.  I am a service-connected, disabled, American veteran (USAF).  I am a University of Houston alumnus (BBA/MIS) and currently studying as a post baccalaureate for an additional degree in Philosophy and Law, Values, & Policy.  I am a retired Bishop in the Church of Commerce and Capitalism; the story arch of my prosecuting and proselytizing the technological proletariat is now behind me.  I am a native Houstonian (and obviously Texan).  At 50 years old, I am a "child of the sixties" and consider the 80's to be my formative years.

As I still struggle with humility, I strive to make willingness, honesty, and open mindedness cornerstones in all my affairs. Fourteen years of sobriety has taught me that none of "this" means a thing if I'm unwilling, dishonest, or close minded.  Therefore I work hard on the things I believe in --

  • I believe we can always achieve more if we collaborate and compromise.
  • I believe that liberal(ism) is a good word/concept and something to be proud to support.  The modern, systematic corruption of liberal ideas is a living human tragedy.
  • I believe in a worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. The pragmatism of this site and my journey is rooted in both classical and social liberalism.
  • I believe in democratic elections and institutions including a media free of commercial and governmental bias.  Liberty and equality perish when a society becomes uneducated and/or ill-informed.
  • I believe in diversity of life and ideas.  Life and ideas can only flourish when the gene pool is vast and abundantly differentiated.
  • I believe in advancing balance in civil, social, and privacy rights such that all of humanity is continuously uplifted.
  • I believe in separation of church (spirituality) and state (governance) -- with neither in supremacy nor subjugation.
  • I believe in private (real or tangible) property explicitly excluding ideas, knowledge, and methods; such non-tangibles, by natural law, being free for all humanity and emancipated at conception.

While change and the uncertainty of the future may be uncomfortable, I do not fear the unknown; therefore:

    • I believe I must be willing to make difficult choices, that those choices may not be all that I desire, and that such may result in undesirable (or unintended) consequences;
    • I believe we must be willing to make mistakes or be wrong; and I am willing to change my mind if necessary.
I undertake to abide the five precepts of Buddhism; therefore:
  1. I believe it is wrong to kill or to knowingly allow others to kill.
  2. I believe it is wrong to steal or to knowingly allow others to steal.
  3. I believe in abstention from sexual misconduct.
  4. I believe it is wrong to lie or to knowingly allow others to lie.
  5. I believe in abstention from non-medicinal intoxicants as such clouds the mind.

Suicide, major depression, borderline personality, and alcoholism are feral monsters ever howling at my doorstep. However, despite my turbulent and tragic past, rare is the day where I have to rationalize, defend, or justify the actions of that person I see looking back at me in the mirror...

Website: www.wermske.com
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