By Pete Harris, Co-Founder and Research Principal
In a November 1 memo to the fresh produce industry, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) did not mention blockchain by name. However, it certainly fits the “state-of-the-art technology” characterization that the agency did encourage the industry to adopt to deal with food contamination outbreaks and subsequent recalls.
Sadly, the memo did not come soon enough to address an E. coli outbreak that was reported this week (across the U.S. and in Canada), and which is currently being investigated. At time of writing this blog, a source of the outbreak has not been located. To play it safe, the FDA has called for the removal and disposal of all romaine lettuce in retail stores and other food channels.
This current E. coli outbreak is just the latest that the FDA has had to address. Since 2006, there have been an average of three multistate outbreaks in the U.S. every year. The FDA memo was actually in part triggered by a major outbreak this past spring/summer, which resulted in 210 illnesses across 36 states, 96 hospitalizations and five deaths.
As well as providing much detail on that outbreak and its probable cause, the memo also asserted the importance of collaboration between the FDA, states and the leafy greens industry, and noted that “our approaches to prevent leafy greens contamination must change to protect public health.”