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Food Recalls and Serial Number Labels

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Food Recalls and Serial Number Labels

IStock_000002832653XSmall My two year old son loves peanut butter. He enjoys peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, several different peanut butter snack bars, and sometime just spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the jar. So when my wife and I heard about the peanut butter recalls recently we went to the FDA web site to check to see if we had any products that were recalled. It turns out we did but after some digging we realized that based on the "Best by" date the products we owned were not part of the recall. This whole episode got me thinking about the safety of our food chain and the inefficient way these recalls are handled. Some of the products in this recall had their best by dates on boxes and if you had thrown the box away you had no way to tell if your product was part of the recall or not. In which case I am sure most people just threw the products away not wanting to risk salmonella poisoning. There has to be a better way. We need to be able to identify these recalled products better. Here is my idea. Every product label should have a unique serial number along with a barcode. Every UPC barcode uniquely identifies a product with a ten digit number. Underneath this barcode I would apply a unique serial number. To be safe you could make it a ten digit number also which would allow for 10 billion different numbers, enough for even the most popular products. So every item on the supermarket shelf will have a number that will uniquely identify it. Then when a product recall is started the FDA could provide information on what serial numbers are affected and you could just look at your product label and know if your product is safe. Maybe the FDA could even have a system where you could type in your barcode and 10 digit serial number to look up your product on their recall web site. Serial number labels would only add a few cents on to the cost of each product and would have immediate benefits in product recalls. All the technology is in place to do this right now and I hope and expect something like this to come out from the government sometime in the next five years. Of course, this mean all product labels would have to be printed digitally in order to print the variable information. Here at Lightning Labels we will be happy to be part of this new movement to help ensure our food supply remains safe.