e.Coli outbreak highlights need for product traceability

September 26, 2013 BY Charles Fallon

The latest outbreak of food-borne illness began at a raw milk cheese production facility in British Columbia.  Sadly, health officials have since linked the e.Coli-tainted cheese to one death in addition to a handful of confirmed illnesses.

The tainted product was on sale between May 27th and September 14th.  Such a large date range suggests that insufficient information was available to associate the e.Coli outbreak with specific production runs.  In the absence of data, those involved are taking the only safe course:  cast as wide a recall net as possible.

The story underscores how critical product traceability is to a safe and vibrant food industry.  When LIDD published its recent webinar on WMS selection, we used the example of a food distributor who sought best-of-breed lot control and traceability functionality from a potential WMS.  In our daily practice, we see clients increasingly concerned with these issues and looking to make appropriate investments to minimize their exposure to risk.

If your company has not done so already, our best practice tips for a successful WMS selection and implementation is a good place to start.  In Logistics Management’s 2013 Survey of Technology Usage, the results indicate that 50% of distribution centers across North America do not use a WMS.  My guess is that the food industry is doing a little better than 50%.  But there’s still a long way to go.

How critical is a WMS system to your business and do you have any similar experiences to share?  We’d love to hear from you.