Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported using grocery store loyalty cards to trace salmonella contamination in the pepper used to season salami produced in Rhode Island. The problem with tracking down this particular contaminated product was that salami has a very long shelf-life both before and after purchase, and people were becoming ill over a period of weeks, even months.
With their permission, the CDC obtained the shopping records of people that had become ill to sort though the thousands if items purchased looking for commonalities among the lists. That’s how something as esoteric as a simple seasoning was pinpointed in the outbreak that spanned coast to coast with seemingly little commonality.
Adam Myrick, Agency spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control in Columbia, South Carolina says it’s an idea that could catch on, going on to say that SC will probably wait and see what the CDC will have to say about it in the form of an After Action Report. But, it very well could be another way we have to reach out to people to share information with, and also get info from them. So, the approach could catch on not only in the Carolina’s but across the country as the CDC shares how it worked, and how effective it was with the other states.
Dan Ragan, Food and Drug Protection Director for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture says that grocery stores have been employing this technique for a while now when there’s been a food recall, going on to explain that it’s not uncommon that some of the major grocery chains are using their specialty or customer cards to inform consumers of a recall if they swiped the card and they know you received something.
It’s not a new statement, but it’s something that’s being worked on to improve food safety, and improve the program of getting things recalled faster and quicker and reduce the opportunity for an outbreak.
We’ll hear more on the process of recalling contaminated food later this week on Today’s Topic.