What learning’s resulted from the St. Paul Salmonella Outbreak?

August 18th, 2008

As the salmonella scare winds down

As the salmonella scare winds down, with no new cases reported since the 27th of July and the count of infected individuals at 1,423. The leading causal candidate seems to be water used on Jalapeños from Mexico. Two questions come to mind. What did procurement professionals learn from the St. Paul Salmonella out break? And, what can be done in the future to shorten the amount of time it takes to come to an end game that does not result in millions of dollars in lost revenue for farmers, distributors, brokers, suppliers, retailers and any other organization in the supply chain.

Below are fifteen (15) thought provoking take aways:

1. Present certifications and laws are not enough to police safety properly.
2. The FDA is not staffed properly to handle an out break of this nature.
3. The FDA is understaffed to handle an issue larger than this outbreak
4. Policies in place to create traceability since 2002 are not being followed in their entirety.
5. One forward one back is not sufficient to support source level traceability.
6. New legislation Safe And Fair Enforcement and Recall for (SAFER) Meat, Poultry, and Food Act of 2008 has been introduced to give the government control over these issues in the future.
7. The CDC does not have the detailed information it requires in a timely manner.
8. Headlines in Major Newspapers are not always accurate. This headline from a June 18th article. How modern science and old fashioned detective work cracked the Salmonella case. Page two’s continuation title is Fast Action, great teamwork nabbed culprit.
9. 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.
10. Growers have lost revenue unnecessarily.
11. Retailers have lost revenue including sales of products affiliated with tomatoes.
12. The FDA has lost man hours that could be focused on preventative tasks to outbreaks in the future.
13. Consumers to some extent have lost confidence in the safety of our food products.
14. Retail sales take a long time to recover even after products are declared safe.
15. It may be easier for retailers to rely on their e-procurement providers to provide safety data in a form greater than one forward one back.

The above list is certainly not complete and in no way is meant to be negative. It is however a call to action to all players in the supply chain to work together to create a traceability standard that will help to eliminate this type of issue or god forbid worse outbreaks in the future.

I look forward to your comments

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