Friday, March 27, 2009

Chain, chain, chain; untraceable supply chain

There was an article in Wednesday's NY Times business section heralding a forthcoming report by the inspector general of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Apparently many manufacturers of food products have no idea of their supply chains. This is why folks are still discovering that they may have killed someone with peanut butter in their cookies and candy.

Now I'm no health nut, but this concluding paragraph in the article really made me gasp:
" ' According to an estimate from a manager at a grain storage facility, if grain from one farm were contaminated, millions of bags of flour would be at risk and might have to be removed from retail shelves,' the report stated."

It made me want to contact the folks at King Arthur, or Bob of Red Mill fame, and say, "Do you know where your grain comes from?" I have to trust that they (mostly Bob these days because of shipping) are the exceptions, who do know - who deserve my trust. But after learning that of 40 market items purchased by inspectors only 5 had a fully traceable supply chain, I wonder.

All just another reason to grow your own, or cultivate your own supply chain. But who can afford that? and for everything? It's time for more inspectors, apparently, to step up enforcement of the law requiring manufacturers to know where their raw ingredients come from.

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