Besides internal pressure to reduce this collateral damage, the FDA is beginning a trial of a new electronic food tracking system as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Although food companies are currently required to track the products they purchase and then ship out, this information is usually on paper and not always easily available. Different departments in the corporation are often responsible for different aspects of production and may have their own methods of tracking the information.
Public health officials rely on this information during a disease outbreak to determine the source of an outbreak and all the foods that might be affected. Lengthy paper trails complicate investigations and increase the chance that a non-contaminated food will be recalled and become collateral damage.
All of these are positive steps, Powell admits, but he remains unconvinced that the bill will have a dramatic affect on food safety. He would like to see companies advertise the safety of their food. And both Karas and DeWaal admit that it's too soon to know how the new bill will actually impact food safety.