When your company is being investigated by the Food and Drug Administration
over contaminated Chinese food products, it's good to have proof you did nothing
Rene Lavoie had that proof – computerized proof – earlier this year when the
FDA thought his New York state cattle-feed company might have shipped a tainted
Chinese feed additive to a Canadian mill.
But, using "track-and-trace"
software from Feed Management Systems Lavoie proved the FDA wrong and ended a
freeze on importing the Canadian feed back into the US.
we could prove the origin was South America through the product's lot number,"
said Lavoie, general manager of Mercer Milling Co. in Liverpool,
Through the Bioterrorism Act of
2002 Animal feed and human food manufacturers are required to keep records of
the source of their ingredients – and produce the records in 24 hours if the FDA
demands them. Lately the law has been used not to prevent bioterrorism but to
root out inferior Chinese feed products. Track-and-trace software, which got a
marketing boost after Sept. 11 and the 2003 mad cow disease outbreak, might
benefit further from the more recent Chinese food and feed contamination, said
Richard Reynertson, chief executive officer of Feed Management Systems.
I don't see the Chinese contamination causing a spike in our sales this year or
next year," Reynertson said. "It takes longer than that." "The truth is, we're
vulnerable," Reynertson said. "We're a very open society, and the food supply is
still very open to tampering. But by monitoring the food supply with good
people, processes and technology, we can minimize what might
Another boost for the company is coming
from agribusiness giant Cargill, which under an April agreement is recommending
the software company's products to customers of its agricultural consulting
services. Cargill said it decided to recommend Feed Management Systems because
it also has a strong suite of feed mill business programs tightly integrated
with Microsoft's accounting software.
"Track-and-trace capability is very big
in the feed mill business," said Bill Mead, Cargill's North American regional
director for consulting and animal nutrition. "It has to do with both the
government tracking requirements and with companies wanting to protect their
There may be more track-and-trace software customers as feed
mills push to save money by switching from paper record-keeping to computerized
management, he said.
The price of the Feed
Management Systems' track and trace software depends on the size of the feed
mill, but typically is $50,000 to license the software plus $10,000 to $15,000 a
year for software maintenance fees, Reynertson said.
software is used in about 200 of the nearly 3,000 US feed mills, he said. The
target market is 640 of those feed mills that produce more than 40,000 tons of
feed annually. So far, Reynertson said, track-and-trace software isn't a big
seller on its own, but instead has helped sell his firm's full suite of
software, which the company claims will pay for itself through increased
efficiency in about a year.
Weblogs from Rich Reynertson
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