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Dr Sarah Taber @SarahTaber_bww
, 20 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
YUP. I have 2 big beefs:

• As @xander76 notes- blockchain can't do anything here that a centralized database wouldn't. That means using blockchain is about hype. Not results.
• Leafy greens are super perishable. By the time someone shows up sick at the hospital, whatever made them sick is eaten or rotten. You can't test it.

Tracing outbreaks is a lot easier w meat & other things where much of each lot is frozen & hangs out in inventory for months.
That means if somebody gets sick, there's still some meat from that lot somewhere that you can test.

With leafy greens, you can use traceability records to find a suspected lot. But you may never be able to test & confirm it.
I suspect this is what happened with a couple of those Chipotle outbreaks from 2015. IIRC, 3 of them were traced to sick workers in an individual store; 1 was traced to bad tomatoes; and 2 of the outbreaks, they were just never able to find what caused them.
That's more likely to happen when the outbreak is caused by something perishable. Most foodborne illnesses take at least a day or two to incubate; then test results take another couple days, and *then* testing food for that pathogen strain can begin.
By the time you know what you're looking for, contaminated lots of perishable products like leafy greens may all be eaten already.

Sooooo it's really hard to ID a guilty party or find any actual evidence of wrongdoing. Especially the kind that's admissible in a court of law.
Good luck getting any kind of legal action or industry fix, if you can't even get the test results to actually prove what crop or company made ppl sick.

Plus, traceability doesn't *make* food safe. It just gives you a general finger-point towards the culprit when it's not.
Honestly my cynical side thinks this might be why the first big company to try & use blockchain for food traceability is ... Wal-Mart. Their business model is a natural home for ideas that look shiny & don't actually accomplish squat.
Let's contrast it with the food safety practices of a firm with similar size & prices: Costco.

For those not in the food biz- Costco is the 800lb gorilla of food safety.
NGL people kind of hate selling to Costco. They need volume, which you'd expect- but it's also bc they also have uniquely high food safety standards for a grocer.

Most grocery chains ask for "some kind of food safety audit." Costco requires you to actually get a *good* audit.
They do this 2 ways:

• There are a lot of entry-level "My First Audits" out there. Costco doesn't take those. You gotta get a big kid audit.

• There are a lot of audit co's out there. Costco actually keeps an eye on which ones are good, & only accepts audits from those co's.
How do they do that?

Costco has an in-house food safety department. And they ACTUALLY SEND THEM OUT TO LOOK AT THINGS.

You'd think this is a common sense thing that every grocery retailer does. lmao it's not.
I've been auditing for 3 years. Costco's sent internal food safety people to observe me auditing.

Number of shadow audits I've had from any other retailer: 0.

There may be other retailers that do this some, but Costco is tops in intensity of their program.
Also, Costco guy had great pointers! Bc he knows his stuff. Bc Costco is on top of food safety & trains their people.

Costco dude is the reason I now have this amazeballs flashlight. Every other one I've had had a weak beam & disintegrated after 3 trips.…
This, to me, really highlights what *actually* makes for good food safety in a supply chain.

• Don't just take certificates at face value. Actually go out & spot-check to make sure the auditors & co's giving them out are doing the job properly.
• Build a solid knowledge base within your company. Actually hire for, pay for, & retain food safety experience.

• When you hire new people, bring them up properly. Transfer that knowledge & experience to the young'uns. They'll be your eyes & ears for decades- do it right.
• When you send your people to check on suppliers, don't just give them a grade. Do feedback! Do trainings!

I'm now a better auditor because of feedback I got from Costco. Because they know their stuff, and they're generous with sharing what they know.
• You've hired all that experience- now use it to make decisive calls.

Example: IMO a lot of the 2011 Listeria outbreak was related to fact that Walmart accepted audits with loopholes big enough to drive a truck through. Don't do ... that.
What's in that list of retailer best practices that actually improve food safety? Investing in human capital, oversight, and proper incentives.

What's not in that list anywhere? FUCKING BLOCKCHAIN
@Jesse_Hirsch this one's for you
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