Holy Jalapeño! Salmonella outbreak continues to grow. How can technology help?

July 11th, 2008

Since not everyone eats jalapeños’

Since not everyone eats jalapeños’, I have to imagine it is hard to track people getting sick from these spicy gems which I happen to love. To a non lover, just one bite might upset there stomach without salmonella.

The one thing we know at this point is that we don’t know what we don’t know. When I posted my first blog on the Salmonella outbreak there were up to 145 reported cases and 23 hospitalizations associated with the tomato recall since the first reported cases in early April. By June 16th the CDC reported that 277 people were infected with the same strain called saintpaul. As of today July 10th 2008 the number has risen to more than 1000 people in forty two states and Canada. According to federal officials this is now the largest food-borne illness in decades. Now we are supposed to avoid, fresh jalapeño and Serrano peppers, and maybe even cilantro.

Tomato growers are actually mowing down fields on harvests that normally last through early autumn because demand is off. And according to retailers although sales are improving demand on some varieties were off by as much as 50% as little as three weeks ago.

Something has to be done to protect our food supply as consumers eat more and more exotic foods. The television, internet and print media are loaded today with cooking information that did not even exist 25 years ago. People just don’t eat plain food any more and are constantly trying more exotic dishes. This is only going to continue to grow as our world becomes smaller and smaller.

It may take entrepreneurs to provide the answer. What is sorely needed is a database of manufacturers, suppliers, brokers, growers and products that can be searched in a variety of ways in order to trace goods to their original source of supply when situations like this occur. Safety is the key area of focus whether it is lead in toys or food-borne illnesses. It is incumbent on suppliers to provide this information freely and openly when it is asked of them. When a safety situation occurs the retailer-broker-supplier-distributor-grower chain can then be easily searched so that our limited government resources can be productive with their existing resources. Technology is the answer.

We look forward to your comments.

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