Food safety initiative gathers momentum

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A program designed to enhance food safety received an important endorsement earlier this month when Kroger Co. put its seal of approval on the Rapid Recall Exchange.

A program designed to enhance food safety received an important endorsement earlier this month when Kroger Co. put its seal of approval on the Rapid Recall Exchange.

A joint undertaking of the Food Marketing Institute and GS1 US, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the establishment of standards-based approaches to improving the supply chain, Rapid Recall Exchange is an online tool that facilitates communications related to food and other products that need to be withdrawn from the market because of safety concerns.

By utilizing GS1 global standards already in place to identify merchandise and move it through the supply chain, the system allows retailers, wholesalers and suppliers to quickly and easily exchange information about safety concerns or other issues that require an item to be taken off the market.

“Using Rapid Recall Exchange provides us with timely and accurate recall data,” says Payton Pruett, Kroger’s vice president of corporate food safety. “Speed is crucial in recall situations, and this will help us be more efficient in removing recalled product from our shelves and communicating with our customers about recalls.”

The need for enhanced measures to protect the food supply is apparent. Contaminated food, such as the peanut products that triggered a widespread salmonella outbreak last year, can sicken and, in some cases, kill those who eat it. To get an idea of the scope of the problem, it’s instructive to look at the web page Kroger devotes to recall information. Since last August, no fewer than 65 entries have been posted, including 28 in March alone.

Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket operator, and other supporters of the Rapid Retail Exchange (which include the National Grocers Association; the Grocery Manufacturers Association; such grocers as Ahold, Publix and Safeway; and many manufacturers and wholesalers) have done the right thing by putting consumer safety first.

All retailers that sell food products as well as the companies that make and distribute them should get on board. By helping give the Rapid Recall Exchange as broad a reach as possible, they will go a long way toward ensuring that contaminated and potentially dangerous products are removed from store shelves expeditiously and preventing consumers from being put at risk.


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