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The UC Davis International Conference on Fresh-Cut Produce

September 2015

Each year 48 million Americans are sickened by a foodborne illness. Approximately 2.9 million of these foodborne illnesses are related to the growing, processing and shipping of fresh produce.  I am on a mission to make the produce food supply in North America safe. This week, I am gathering with other like-minded professionals at the UC Davis International Conference. In preparing for the talk I will give on “Creating a Safe Produce Food Supply”, I found myself reflecting on the progress we have made to make all produce in the US traceable and the challenges that we still face. The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) was started in 2007 and when the seven milestones were originally rolled out the leadership team had hoped for full voluntary compliance by 2010. Here we are eight years later and we are not there yet.  We have some made significant progress:

  • The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was passed in 2011
  • The Safe Food for Canadians ACT was passed in 2012
  • Walmart became the first major retailer to require case level traceability in 2013
  • Whole Foods started using the PTI labels to assist in their in-store supplier rating system in 2013

However, we still have a significant way to go in order to complete case level traceability in produce. As the current cucumber Salmonella Poona foodborne illness outbreak continues to unfold, 341 people have confirmed illnesses and two have died. We are moving in the right direction, but clearly not fast enough for the victims and families of those who have been sickened or died.

The food safety professionals are the modern day heroes that will help us turn the tide on foodborne illness and deaths. Traceability providers, like RedLine, play the supporting role of identifying and removing tainted product when things go wrong.  My team understands the critical nature of the challenge in front of us and the impact our work has within the companies we serve. We are working hard every day to make case labeling traceability accessible to grower shippers of all sizes. Stay tuned because when passion meets purpose great things follow…

 

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