Best Practices for Food Safety Compliance
Food Safety Issues
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that foodborne illnesses in the United States cause approximately 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) to get sick, 128,000 to be hospitalized, and 3,000 to die every year. After considering these numbers, it should not be surprising to learn that the number of food recalls in the US is increasing dramatically. In the 1990’s, there were about 100 recalls per year and by the 2000’s, that number had tripled to about 300. Unfortunately, food recalls are becoming a common occurrence. During the past few years there have been significant technological advances and innovations in the food service industry aimed at making our food safer. As further evidence of the importance of this issue, the Federal government passed the Food Modernization and Safety Act, commonly referred to as FSMA. This paper will focus on food distributors and their responsibilities with regard to food safety and food recalls.
There are over 15,000 distribution companies operating in the United States who are responsible for thousands of warehouses and fleets of trucks housing and transporting food products. A single distribution center can supply up to 6,000 retail food outlets while offering their customers as many as 10,000 different products. This adds up to millions of cases of food that are delivered to grocery stores, restaurants, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes every single day. Safe and efficient movement of these products from farm to table requires a carefully coordinated effort involving numerous trading partners.
Distributors receive food products in bulk from manufacturers and are responsible for maintaining freshness while the food is in their control. This includes receiving, storing, and shipping products to their customers. The quality and safety measures undertaken by distribution centers play a key role in keeping food safe.