According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 48 million people get sick from foodborne diseases every year. Out of this number, more than 128,000 must go to the hospital as a result. The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law in 2011 with the desire to prevent contamination, instead of taking a reactive stance.
While one part of the law targets food producers and growers, another key aspect of the FSMA is making sure manufacturers have put safeguards in place to reduce the risks associated with contamination and improve traceability so that any recall can be carried out more effectively. Any domestic or foreign company that manufactures, processes or packs food for human consumption must have written plans in place that highlight potential issues or specific points in workflows that may result in any kind of contamination. There must also be procedures that outline monitoring practices, as well as measures to track results and have action plans to respond quickly to foodborne illnesses.
A Call to Action
A recent recall of ground beef products sourced at a Minnesota enterprise highlights the need for creating an automated data collection solution in food manufacturing and distribution facilities across the U.S. According to the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, Ranchers Legacy Meat Co. recalled roughly 1,200 pounds of ground beef that are suspected of being contaminated with the bacteria, E. coli.
E. coli presents a significant health risk for individuals who consume products that are contaminated by it. E. coli can cause dehydration and bloody diarrhea within a few days of exposure. Children and the elderly are most susceptible to the risks associated with the bacteria. Accordingly, it's highly important for manufacturers and distributors to be able to isolate specific points during the production process that may lead to contamination.
Organizations Need to Modernize their Data Capture Systems
Because of the health risks and branding nightmare that can accompany E. coli contamination, food recall processes need to be extremely streamlined to reduce the damage. A food manufacturer often can't avoid losing money because of foodborne bacteria, but they can mitigate further risk by making certain it's easy to trace the source of the outbreak and create a more transparent environment for the recall to take place. In this way an organization can reduce extensive financial issues brought about through fines and potential litigation.