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Food Industry Expert Warns Against Source Marking vs. Traceability Confusion

June 12, 2011 9:30 am0 commentsViews: 6

As difficult as it may be to believe, some consumers are apparently confused over the difference between source marking and traceability.

Fruit markingAs difficult as it may be to believe, some consumers are apparently confused over the difference between source marking and traceability. That, at least, is the opinion of Angela Paymard, Chairwoman of N2N Global which is a Florida-based outfit providing operations, compliance, and safety solutions for food companies. Her view comes via a press release carried by an online outlet of The San Francisco Chronicle. The unfortunate headline on the story is, ‘Mothers Beware of False Food “Traceability” Claims, Nationally Recognized Food Safety Expert Says.’ I have two problems with that header. One, shouldn’t fathers be wary, too? And, secondly, can anyone give me an example of a food company overtly misleading consumers over the difference between product origin information and full-blown traceability. Ms. Paymard does not provide a named company engaging in this practice.

From the news release:

Paymard says, “Mothers should be aware that when they’re looking at the “traceability” information, they are only seeing source information and not traceability information.”

Paymard explains: Source marking is the information of where the source of the product is such as “John Doe’s Farms in Salinas, CA.” However, source marking does not tell you that a clam shell of strawberries went from John Doe’s Farms to Don’s Trucking to a Retailers Distribution Center 1 in Yuma, AZ to a local store in Los Angeles over a 7 day period with multiple people handling the strawberries. It is because of this that the FDA and the Center for Disease Control cannot use source marking in the event of recall.

I get the part about not knowing where a product has been when all you know is where it originated. But I don’t get, nor agree, with the part that the FDA doesn’t rely on source marking as part of a recall effort. In combination with full-blown traceability, source marking is what enables the FDA to pinpoint the exact farm location where contamination may have occurred.

Then Ms.  Paymard shifts gears. She decides the fault lies at the doorstep of labeling technology companies: “What is really disturbing is that these labeling technology companies are convincing our trusted farmers that these numbering systems will somehow provide ‘traceability.’ Since our growers desire to do the right thing and keep the public safe, they buy these systems and in the end, they have spent money for a system that has not made the consumer safer and has cost the grower real money.”

That’s simply off the charts in terms of credibility or usefulness to anyone. Your average farmers just isn’t that ignorant. Come to think of it, your average consumer just isn’t that ignorant, either.

You can see the full version of the news release by going here to this link.

 

 

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