Monday’s business section of The Washington Post contained an article titled “Traceability rule represents big adjustment for food industry.” It focused on the recent provision on a federal food safety law tracing foods source. Since 2005 certain food providers have been required to trace food, but it is now expanding to restaurants and farms.
All companies must be able to trace where an item originated on demand in case of an outbreak. With the complicated path that food travels there has been a push to create a device that would make tracking it simpler. In the current food climate, a certain item may pass through multiple people before it gets to the grocer’s shelf. Those multiple layers make it difficult to track items.
The push to find a technology that can track food came after the 2008 salmonella outbreak. A device more sophisticated than the current method of bar codes will not only help to ensure the timely pinpoint of an outbreak, but it will also allow companies to keep tabs on the speed at which handlers pass along the product.
One system that has already reached a few consumers is a bar-code placed on individual items that shoppers can scan with a smart-phone application. The phone will tell the shopper where the food has traveled and even offer contact information for the original farm.
Farmer, Phillip Bauman, told the Washington Post that , “This system gives the end user – the customer – the option to be more aware of their products and where it comes from. And I think there will be a higher level of accountability, on our end of it, too.”
In the food world accountability is key. People are beginning to understand that it is important to know where the food on their plates came from. Whether their concerns are with health, environmental integrity or supporting ones local economy it is necessary to know the path from farmer to kitchen.