Following food would aid consumer safety
The state agriculture department will test a food safety program, tracking home-grown produce.
A TEST program to track Hawaii-grown fruits and vegetables
makes perfect sense in a time when outbreaks of food-borne illness have consumers skittish about where their edibles come from.
If successful, the program could be another model in the so-called "farm-to-fork" movement that is growing nationwide and around the world, largely outside of government authorities that have been slow to adopt safety measures for fresh foods.
The state Department of Agriculture's three-year project will use tags with transmitters on containers of foods grown and distributed in the islands. The idea is that should there be contamination, food can be quickly located and pulled from retailers. For consumers, recalls can be pinpointed rather than widely issued.
Tags would be encoded with other information, such as where and when the crop was grown and harvested, what pesticides and other products were used in production.
Recent incidents in which people were sickened after eating green onions or lettuce at a fast-food chain, or spinach sold at grocery stores demonstrates the need for easy tracing, particularly since monitoring is generally neglected by the Food and Drug Administration.
The state program will start small, involving just one farm, a distributor and a supermarket, but if it works out, would include the estimated 5,000 island farms. Cost for the large-scale program, however, should be kept low because farmers operate on thin profit margins.
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