As large companies and their distribution centers merge, the size and impact of a potential recall becomes enormous.
“Global Technology Resources (GTR) has launched a new system designed to detect, track and manage food safety threats across the supply chain. Combining patented web-based global positioning system (GPS) technology with radio frequency identification (RFID), the company claims that the system is the first solution of its kind to harness this technology to provide early detection of disease, foodborne pathogens and contamination.”
This is a private software system designed to help food distributors combat (food) terrorism.
“Less than one per cent of the food imported into the US undergoes any type of inspection – leaving what many call an open door to terrorists.”
Although it is unlikely that a system like this will have any appreciable effect on terrorist activity in the next several years, it can shield a company from a costly recall effort.
Hypothetically, if chives from a particular but unidentified farm carry a strain of Hepatitis, all chives which that farm might have produced must be recalled. The distributor and all farms which it purchases produce from are affected. However if the bad lot could be identified by origin, the problem could be identified and isolated earlier, leading to a safer food supply and reduced liability for the producer.
Terrorism, while an obvious threat, is a poor reason to install such a system. When the technology to dramatically reduce food poisoning and infection from food exists, companies will soon have an economic motive: a reduced number of lawsuits and higher level of consumer trust. Automotive companies have an obligation to provide cars with levels of safety in line with current technology, and food producers will as well. The commercial success of questionably safer organic foods demonstrate the market. If growers and handling points can be quickly identified, they can be verified as well.