contamination would result in another outbreak of food borne illnesses, a new industry mantra emanated from the attendees: Know your suppliers from top to bottom through
tracking, traceability and sourcing.
New government regulations, such as the Bioterrorism Act of the Food and Drug Administration and the USDA's Country of Origin Labeling provisions, which will come into effect in the near future, will mandate that everyone who comes into contact with food should know where it came from and where it's going. This one-step backward, one-step forward concept as it was called will compel the entire food supply chain to maintain strict records of their products as well as even visit their original sources, such as an off-shore farm, where HACCP, hygiene and sanitation standards could be insisted on.
While admonishing the audience that it would be the height of smugness to think that you can completely avoid food contamination, Kathy Means, vice president, Food Marketing
Association, urged food professionals to be "prepared for the unexpected and then, when it happens, respond as fast as possible based on the facts."
Possession of those facts, preparedness and sound, quick risk-response procedures can ensure that the food borne pathogen outbreak is contained, injuries or fatalities are
limited, consumers' concerns or fears are eased and the brand name does not suffer permanent damage. However, even these steps many not save the business from failure.
That can only be done, the speakers said, through surveillance and vigilance.
Industry experts suggested that the grounds for reliable tracing and sourcing of food products are that investigating the cause of a food borne illness outbreak after a person consumes restaurant food is too late. Sourcing, they said, makes certain the quality and safety of products throughout the supply chain, not merely at its origination or termination.
For a complete report on the Food Safety Summit, see the Friday, March 26, edition of ID Report