retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post reports that US health officials have not yet been able to identify the specific source of an E. coli contamination that led to a nationwide outbreak, and for the moment at least ”are sticking with a broad warning to consumers, telling them to throw away romaine, in any form, that comes from the Yuma, Ariz., growing region, and to avoid eating romaine of unknown origin. Most of the romaine sold in the United States during the winter is grown in the Yuma region.”

The story notes that “outbreak investigations often take weeks because food in the United States is handled and processed many times as it is distributed nationwide. Typically, the contamination comes from animal feces coming into contact with the produce. Investigators are searching the Yuma area and doing field tests trying to find where the problem originated.”

One clue in the probe has come from eight sick prisoners at the Anvil Mountain Correctional Center in Nome, Alaska, all of whom ate lettuce that came from a single supplier in Yuma.
KC's View:
My friend Bob Wheatley of Emergent points out that “if Blockchain technology were already in place in the Yuma agricultural community we wouldn’t be having these blanket alerts from the CDC and the — at times — unreasonable uncertainty about where tainted products are coming from and where they exist currently in the food retail system.

If the supply chain were digitized as Blockchain technology would permit, growers, distributors, manufacturers and brand minders can know immediately (seconds not hours) where contaminated products came from, where they were shipped, what stores they are in — thus enabling a quick and precise recall that maximizes safety and minimizes business losses all the way around.”