This week’s news reported another food recall for the northeast region released this week .
On July 22, 2012, Cargill announced a voluntary recall of about 29,300 pounds of 85-percent-lean ground beef produced May 25, 2012, in Wyalusing, Pa.
So why did it take so long to announce the recall?
The Centers for Disease Control first identified an unusual number of Salmonella Enteritidis illnesses. Because several state departments of health are involved in issuing reports, it may be some time for enough data to substantiate a safety issue.
Officials then have to trace back to the source of the disease. It can get complicated when global sources, multiple locations, and daily processing of food are involved.
Growers or packaging plants that rely on paper-based tracking systems or inadequate, unresponsive systems can cause wide-spread recalls and costly halts in business. This is why it is so important to be able to provide traceability of products, right down to the ingredient or growing/picking source.
So ask yourself – what would your business do in the event of a recall?
- Do you have a way to produce the required tracking information within hours, not days?
- Can you track ingredients to the source of each one?
- For meat processing, can you track the meat source, where it came from, what was fed to the animals?
- For produce growers, do you tag in the field to be sure you can identify the exact lot of affected food?
If you don’t know the answers to these few, simple questions, you need to do something before a recall is announced on your product.
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USDA food safety guidelines for safely handling and preparing food can be found on the USDA Internet website:www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/Safe_Food_Handling_Fact_Sheets/index.asp and serve as helpful food safety reminders.