Can food products be traced? Not easily.
In 2005, the FDA required certain categories of manufacturers to keep records about the source, transporters, and recipients of their products. Recently, the Inspector General of the FDA’s parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, conducted an exercise to see whether traceability was working. Inspectors bought 4 samples of 10 different food products (e.g., bottled water, oatmeal, tomatoes) at retail stores and attempted to track their supply chains. Oops. It only could trace 5. For another 31, it could make educated guesses. But nearly 60% of food facilities handling these products could not complete the tracing and 25% did not know they were supposed to.
The FDA, says the Inspector General, needs statutory authority to require producers to know their supply chains and everybody involved needs some education about how to do this. No wonder we are still getting daily recalls of products containing peanut better. Statutory authority means Congress. I wish Congress would get busy on this!