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Food Vendor Database Proposed for Recalls

Posted August 16, 2007

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— Second District Congressman Bob Etheridge said Thursday that he would propose a national database of supermarkets, convenience stores and other food vendors so information about food recalls can be disseminated more quickly and effectively.

"That database is absolutely critical," Etheridge said, following a meeting with state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler about food safety.

The meeting came in the wake of a nationwide recall of Castleberry canned meats, which might have contained a toxin that causes botulism. Despite the recall notice, state inspectors found cans of the food remaining on shelves at about half of the stores they checked.

"It confused both the public and the press," Troxler said of the recall notice, which listed dozens of products and brands.

But he said his inspectors were even more concerned that they didn't know where to look for the tainted food.

"I don't think there is a database, per se, that would say to us this is where all the businesses are in North Carolina that would sell a particular product," he said.

In February, for example, ConAgra Foods recalled all of its peanut butter after the government linked it to a salmonella outbreak. Last fall, bagged spinach was recalled nationwide after being linked to E.coli illnesses. State inspectors also tested imported fish in recent months amid safety concerns.

Troxler said similar confusion could occur during any future food recall, and he plans to look at developing a state database similar to the federal one Etheridge is pursuing.

State agriculture officials also said the Castleberry recall taught them a better way to communicate. Getting recall information to county health departments is more effective than relying on people to check national releases, they said, noting that people listen more to people they know.

Ed Weems, part-owner of Capital City Grocery, said he does monitor recall notices.

"We check the recalls daily," Weems said, adding that his store didn't have any of the Castleberry food. "You always want to be alert, but I feel pretty confident."

Food safety is vital to the state's economy, officials said, noting that agriculture and agribusiness is a $66 billion industry in North Carolina.

20 Comments

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  • seeingthru Aug 16, 2007

    is it just me or do things just not have the flavor they had 20-30 yrs ago? It seems that food quality is generally compromised?

  • Z Man Aug 16, 2007

    lilwil - you're right, the slackers in our government are not doing their job, but they havn't as long as I can remember. Many of these folks suck up our tax dollars and never get anything accomplished. They are overpaid and under worked and get better benefits than you or I.

    My problem is the first (and usually last) thing the government does about any situation is 'talk about it'. Nothing ever gets done. Maybe that's why we're in the state we're in. Too many talkers and not enough doers. What we have here is ineffective and inept government, at almost all levels.

  • Hip-Shot Aug 16, 2007

    "Sounds to me like a firing is in order".

    You have a valid point but all our elected officials as well as big business have been in favor of outsourcing all consumer goods to 3rd world countries because they can get them cheaper, and it supports the new "world economy". This trend appears to have started in the early 80's.

    As far as the drugs not being allowed to be purchased from Canada, its all about profits and the big Pharma companies are making a killing off of the American public with drugs, many of which are unsafe, such as SSRI's( a whole class of anti-depressants). Their profit margin would shrink if products were allowed in from Canada, and Canada should consider such an attitude( on our governments part) a slap in the face.

  • Scubagirl Aug 16, 2007

    It's time to quit sending production/help lines and anything else overseas. Before China took over our retail we didn't seem to have these problems! Bring the jobs back here

  • William Tell Aug 16, 2007

    I have no confidence in the state to protect our food supply, it took them a month to try to remove the tainted chili from the shelves. That is just far too slow and irresponsible

  • baracus Aug 16, 2007

    Memory, the effects of foodborne botulism are caused by the botulinum toxin made by the bacteria before ingestion not by the bacteria themselves. Botulism refers to the effect of the toxin not to infection by the bacteria.

  • TheAdmiral Aug 16, 2007

    Hey Feds - when this issue was raised when the big companies chasing profits rather than food safety by sending it to China and other countries you said: "The food supply is safe."

    When the dog food was poisoned you said: "The food supply is safe."

    When the toothpaste was poisoned you said: "The food supply is safe."

    When we found out that 60% of ALL recalls were on products from China you said: "The products are safe."

    When we found out the toys that were recalled contained led the chinese toy criminal said: "We made them to the company specs." In which the news reported a government agency said: "The levels of lead in the paint is safe."

    Just who in the world are you kidding? The food supply has been outsourced to countries that really, over the past 100 years, could give a rats patootie about the United States and have been hell bound and determined to get rid of us and you say: "It is safe."

    And the state says: "We believe them."

    Sounds to me like a firing is in order.

  • Taurus Aug 16, 2007

    This is scary, but what is even more scarier is the fact that they are still stocking shelves with these foods. I actually called Castelberry with my concerns, and told them where they were restocking these items, no concern. That really bothered me, my next step is to give Joseph Reardon a call.

  • Memory Aug 16, 2007

    "the bacteria that causes Botulism"...That's like saying "the bacteria that causes E. coli."

  • betty8i Aug 16, 2007

    It is sad that it is not safe to buy toys or anything to eat from stores. You never know what you are going to be bringing home. You would think before anything could come here from Cina that had some tpye of plan where items must be scanned before we get them here. That or just don't get it from there.
    It has went from Dogfood, to peanut butter, and now toys. Are we even safe anymore to trust anyting we buy???

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