When it comes to food, I don’t mess around and I expect the same from companies in the food industry. If something in my fridge expired yesterday, I say bye bye today (within good reason). Call me paranoid, call me wasteful, but don’t call me late for dinner. Food is an essential and therefore, I cannot ignore the fact that certain companies do not handle it as seriously as an essential should be handled. The number of deaths in the U.S. that have occurred as a result of contaminated foods is unacceptable and some serious efforts are still needed to make headway on this topic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “each year about 76 million illnesses occur, more than 300,000 persons are hospitalized, and 5,000 die from food borne illnesses.”
Healthcare legislation has been the Senate’s focus for quite some time now. With this legislation now signed into law, the Senate can turn its attention to the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) passed by a Senate committee back in November 2009. One company, iGPS, is calling on the Senate to “mandate the latest tracking technology” in its new legislative efforts. iGPS “operates the world’s first pallet rental service providing manufacturers with lightweight, recyclable all-plastic pallets embedded with RFID tags. The RFID tags in iGPS plastic pallets allow products to be easily traced at numerous points along the supply chain, providing a way to pinpoint and contain contaminated products.” iGPS’s Chairman and CEO, Bob Moore, makes a good point in saying that “pallets are an often overlooked, but key component of our nation’s supply chain. At one point, almost every food, pharmaceutical and countless other consumer products have been on a pallet. We need to take all possible measures to ensure that pallets are not harboring bacteria or pathogens that can affect our food supply.” iGPS recently issued a press release to stress the importance of this technology as the most recent HVP (Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein) recall disrupted our nation’s food supply chain and impacted more than 100 products.
The global food supply chain only continues to grow and while we wait for change, change that will hopefully have a positive impact on all players in the food industry (producers and consumers), I invite you to take control of your own personal food supply chain and get a better understanding of what you are eating, where it comes from, how long it will last, and how to store it properly. Another organization that is stressing the importance of safe food is Apple. Maybe it’s because of their name and logo, who knows, but I came across a few Food Safety News articles that discuss certain iPhone applications that can help any consumer take control of what goes on their plate.
Still Tasty, GoodGuide, and Food Watch New York are just a few of the applications that can help you find the information you are looking for. The Still Tasty app, managed by StillTasty.com, is described as the “ultimate shelf life guide – in the palm of your hand.” This app answers all of your questions about how long your food stays safe and tasty and how it should be stored. With GoodGuide, you can simply scan a barcode in your grocery store and recall information will appear as well as any harmful ingredients in the product. Food Watch New York allows you to “look at a map and see which restaurants near you have failed inspections.” This app uses the New York City Department of Health’s data in delivering the information you need. To learn more about these applications and others related to food safety, visit Food Safety News. These applications help you be less wasteful (maybe I should take some tips) and more aware of what you are putting in your mouth. It’s important to realize that you don’t need an iPhone to become more knowledgeable about the food you are eating. You can simply visit the websites that manage these applications at StillTasty.com and GoodGuide.com.
In a recent WSJ article, Senator Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) is quoted in saying that “food safety legislation could reach the Senate floor around Easter and be ‘on the President’s desk by May.’” Only time will tell.