Foodborne illnesses prompt new era of consumables accountability

When a food-contamination situation erupts, it’s imperative that companies be well-equipped to trace the origins of that outbreak and act effectively to limit the public’s exposure to pathogens.

While the government has, for decades, focused energies in this arena, new legislative efforts would up the ante, making various federal agencies even more vigilant in working to thwart foodborne illnesses. H.R. 814: Trace Act of 2009 is aimed at improving the safety of food, meat, and poultry products via enhanced traceability and would dramatically improve the ability to follow almost all products.

Another bill, which has passed the House and awaits Senate approval, represents the first major overhaul of food laws since 1938. At least four other food-safety bills are in various stages of consideration within either the House or Senate. But it’s not just those on the Hill who are exerting pressure.

Consumers also are pushing hard on manufacturers to provide more descriptive information on products, not just a jumble of numbers and letters only manufacturers understand. They want to see more meaningful phrases, such as “sell by”, “use before” or other easily comprehended statements.

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