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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Traceability after Spinach

spinachbad.jpgSara Rubin of the Monterey County Weekly wrote a thought-provoking story on traceability in the produce industry – “From the Field to the Fork, Tracing the Traceability Issue.” The piece is worth a read – especially some of the quotes:

The flipside of protection is increased exposure for the culpable party. After a 2009 salmonella outbreak killed nine people, the Peanut Corporation of America closed its doors after more than 30 years in business. Bill Marler, a personal injury attorney and expert on foodborne illness, says, “If something goes wrong, traceability is going to make sure someone catches you. On a fairly low level, that is always going to be a concern of a company.”

But Marler and Treacy agree keeping recalls simple and small is good for business. “You couldn’t give spinach away in 2006,” Treacy says.

Marler says it’s important to keep traceability in perspective. “The outbreak has already happened, so having traceability isn’t going to fix that one problem.”

  • John Munsell

    Granted, once the horses have been let out of the barn, tracing the horses back to the one offending barn won’t prevent their earlier escape. However, if public health values the identification of the food facilities which are unwittingly allowing horses out of their barns, so to speak, to prevent additional further occurences, we must consider identifying the noncompliant barns (food establishments). Once this is done, corrective actions can then be initiated by the noncompliant facilities to prevent recurrences.
    If we have no interest in tracebacks, which is the exact problem besetting USDA/FSIS, we virtually guarantee consumers that they will continue to suffer from outbreaks and recalls. Sound familiar?
    John Munsell