What's needed is basic documentation: the time and date the product is ground; exact product name and quantity; production codes; sell-by and use-by dates, for example.
Technology should make this task easier as well as numerous traceback models in the world that we can study.
And retail is just one point in the entire system where traceback needs to be improved. Each day, FSIS and industry tests products for microbial contamination. Efforts to determine the source of positive product that an establishment produces need to be robust to prevent contaminated product from reaching consumers.
The challenge doesn't end at our nation's borders. Nearly 3.3 billion pounds of meat and poultry are imported into the United States each year.
Trade in food is critical to our diet and permits our farmers and other food producers to sell their goods abroad. Foodborne illness, however, does not respect national borders so we need to be looking toward a seamless tracing system that reaches throughout the nation and the world.
This is no small task and will require that everyone in the food business must do their part and make traceability a priority. The good news is this forum brings together key parties with an interest in providing safe food. Let's use the power we all have to unite and make this nation a model for product tracing.
Again, thank you all for being here. I look forward to your input and your ideas. Let's make the time you're investing in this forum productive and worthwhile.