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Traceability education vital for all companies
By DOROTHY NOBLE
BALTIMORE (May 19, 2015) — In spite of the disturbances in the city at that time, the Food Safety Summit held in late April attracted more than 1,200 food safety people.
The educational session on traceability highlighted the significance of the upcoming rules on food safety to be issued in late summer and fall under the Food Safety and Modernization Act.
The preventive controls and foreign supplier final rules are slated for release by the Food and Drug Administration by Aug. 30, and the produce safety rule is anticipated by Oct. 31.
Shawn Stevens, a founding member of Food Industry Counsel, LLC, said his firm is the only one in this country which represents only food illness cases.
Stevens reported that of the mistakes he has seen, most involve some aspect of traceability.
“You cannot have food safety without traceability,” he said.
With respect to the generalization about the point in time in which people truly care about traceability, he charged, “When there is a problem.”
Stevens then listed reasons for the importance of traceability: regulatory compliance, risk reduction, cost reduction, and market access.
Moreover, criminal sanctions may apply in nonconforming cases.
Compassion, commitment and communication are all essential for effective traceability.
But a frequent characteristic of companies Stevens said is that “They don’t want to spend money until they have to.”
However, if a problem arises, he noted, “Traceability will determine whether a company survives.”
Traceability does cost money and other resources.
Stevens advised that a company must know what it bought and from whom it bought it. Also, it should be aware of cost misconceptions.
Old, narrow thinking is very prevalent, he noted.
There were 500 recalls last year. When that happens, companies must have programs in place to handle the situation.
Not only are there risks to the company brand, criminal sanctions are possible.
Stevens urged companies to push themselves internally, be knowledgeable and put a good program in place.
It is not uncommon for insurance companies to charge $60,000 a year for recall coverage.
And, unfortunately, Stevens said in the case of an event, the companies look for reasons to deny coverage.