Mothers Beware of False Food “Traceability” Claims, Nationally Recognized Food Safety Expert Says

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Mothers hoping to protect their children’s food and ensuring their family’s food safety by utilizing “numbering codes” on product bags or packages should beware: This may not be accomplishing what they think.

An outbreak of a dangerous strain of Escherichia coli bacteria in Germany has already killed 15 people and made 1,000 more ill. Early evidence by German researchers linked the outbreak to cucumbers imported from farms in Spain, a claim officials in Spain dispute.

“Every expert says there is no immediate risk to the U.S. food supply, which is great news. But mothers wanting to remain aware of any new developments can take some additional steps to ease their fears,” said Angela Paymard, Chairwoman of N2N Global. N2N Global, based in Orlando, Fla. provides operations, compliance, and food safety solutions for food companies which helps ensure the world’s food supply operates more effectively and efficiently. Better and more efficient operations translates to a higher quality of food in the supply chain. Paymard works with food supply chain companies like restaurants, retailers, and distributors all the way through growers, packers, and processors around the world.

Mothers hoping to protect their children’s food and ensuring their family’s food safety by utilizing “numbering codes” on product bags or packages should beware: This may not be accomplishing what they think.

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.

“Source information is not enough information to figure out the points at which contamination may have occurred, or what path the product traveled after it was contaminated (and what else could be contaminated from being in contact with the tainted product),” says Paymard.

“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.”

One of the greatest consumer concerns relates to products like spinach and tomatoes that underwent massive nationwide recalls in 2006 and 2008. Source marking would not have been able to prevent or limit these recalls. Nor, would it have changed the CDC’s process for identifying contamination.

Consumers seeking to find out if any product they are consuming is under recall can do the following: Check the FDA website. In the event of contamination, companies are required by law to report to the FDA any quality or food safety issues with any of their product. Also, check the brand owner’s website. Typically, brand owners take the opportunity of a recall to share what has been recalled, what you can do to return the product, and then to assure and educate you this will not happen again. Finally, check with the local retailer. They will usually have signs up explaining what is being recalled and the store staff will be made aware of any news to share with you in this realm.

“One way to make source marking work is to combine it with a traceability system. This could be accomplished with a link to an Enterprise Resource Planning System that many companies have in place today. The key issue would be “links” between the systems.”

Today, many food industry verticals are engaging in revised labeling requirements that would require consistent labeling across the industry. One of the leaders in this realm is the fresh produce industry with the Produce Traceability Initiative.

“The industry has engaged in a monumental effort to get 2.2 million farmers, handlers, wholesalers, and retailers to agree that they will label their product in a standardized way. Fresh produce is leading the way for other industries as to how we can collectively accomplish this huge effort.”

About N2N Global
N2N Global's product suite brings powerful solutions for all members of the food supply chain. For Supply Side companies, N2N offers agri-ERP solutions, farm management, food safety, business analytics and traceability software. For direct to consumer and buy side companies, N2N offers food safety, compliance, and asset tracking tools to help ensure the food supply is properly managed for minimized risk.N2N Global provides comprehensive solutions for companies looking for ways to improve efficiencies, enhance profitability, and ensure food safety. To contact Angela Paymard directly, visit her on N2N’s twitter page For more information, please visit

N2N Media Relations
Karen McGagh


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