FDA tests food tracking to curb disease

Sept. 7, 2011 at 7:46 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says projects are under way to combat outbreaks of foodborne illnesses by quickly tracking down contaminated foods.

Two pilot projects, one for processed foods and the other for produce, will be conducted to explore how the FDA and the food industry can rapidly trace foods back to a source of contamination during an outbreak of disease, an FDA release said Wednesday.

The moves comes following widespread outbreaks of foodborne illnesses tied to foods such as spinach, peanut butter and eggs that feature prominently in the American diet.

"We can prevent illnesses and reduce the economic impact to the food industry if we can more quickly discover what food may be causing an outbreak and what foods can be eliminated from consideration," Michael R. Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, said.

A proposed product tracing system would involve overseeing the production and distribution chain so a product can be traced back to a common source or forward through distribution channels if there's evidence of contaminated food, the FDA said.

The Institute of Food Technologists, a non-profit scientific society focused on food science and technology, will carry out the pilot studies for the FDA.

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