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Durham company aiding search of origin for Chipotle E. coli outbreak

Posted November 5, 2015
Updated November 6, 2015

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— A small Triangle-based company is part of the investigative team trying to pinpoint the source of the recent Chipotle E. coli outbreak.

FoodLogiQ, a food safety software company in Durham, contracts with companies such as restaurants and grocery stores to track fresh fruits, vegetables and other products from the source to where they end up. If there's a problem, as in the case of Chipotle, FoodLogiQ's software can trace it.

“The big thing that we do is proactive data collection,” said Andrew Kennedy, co-founder of FoodLogiQ.

Information stored in bar codes helps FoodLogiQ connect the food chain.

Kennedy showed an example using Hass avocadoes.

“This case label, not only does it have the product, but it has the lot code, which then points to packaging dates,” Kennedy said. “We know exactly what dates it was packed. We can trace that back to the farm of origin, and that is the key piece of information.”

Ben Chapman, a food safety expert and associate professor at North Carolina State University, blogs about food safety issues. He says companies such as FoodLogiQ track vital information about the food supply chain.

“The more we can trace these things and pull that information together, that means we can all build – in our community and food safety community – better tools to help reduce the chances of people getting sick,” Chapman said.

Kennedy said FoodLogiQ is ultimately helping companies like Chipotle keep their food supply chain in check.

“That’s what we do,” Kennedy said. “We help companies go and find that information (and) collect it ahead of time so it’s available when they need it.”

Kennedy says FoodLogiQ and other similar companies really grew after the Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law in 2011. That shifted the focus from responding to food-borne illnesses to finding ways to prevent them.


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