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Tracking after a salmonella scare.

By Allison Manning

WHILE THE PANIC GENERATED by the most recent food recall may have piqued the public's interest, those in the produce supply chain have already been working on improving traceability and recordkeeping for the past year.

The Produce Marketing Association ( ), Canadian Produce Marketing Association ( ) and the United Fresh Produce Association ( ), have been meeting since January 2007, establishing milestones and a timetable for achieving a standardized method of electronic record keeping.

Julia Stewart, public relations director for the Produce Marketing Association, said for some companies, the tracking systems "just aren't there," with every company doing it differently. Currently, the time lag for tracing food from fork to farm is about three days. Under the initiative, which encourages the use of a special code, the time could be cut down to a matter of minutes or hours. The code would include what is contained in the case, the manufacturer and the date it was harvested or packed, leading to more specific, less devastating recalls.

Without consistent tracking, in addition to it taking days or weeks to figure out where a tomato or pepper came from, a company is never really sure it has actually recalled everything needed and may have to do a wider recall just to be safe.

"You can narrow it down to what products are affected and where they are," Jim Le Tart, director of marketing at RedPrairie ( ), said. "You don't have to do a general recall, which can be hugely expensive."

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Author:Manning, Allison
Publication:Modern Materials Handling
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2008
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