If it seems like there has been a huge increase in the number of food-related recall notices - you're right, there have been.  If no other gauge were available, the news coming from the United States Department of Agriculture would be telling.  According to news sources, the USDA is expected to new guidelines at some point in the next week.

The new guidelines and the increase in recalls stems largely from the increasing use of automation in food handling and preparation.  As humans have been replaced by machines in the factory, many of the ways food products were quality-checked have declined.  Whereas someone would be able to get a visual inspection in while working the food line in the past, most machines are unable to tell whether or not something doesn't "look" right . That lack of critique has led to many of the problems we are seeing in the food industry.

The expected new guidelines from the USDA would work like this: The agency would advise food manufacturers to start their own internal investigations within 24 hours of a customer complain. They would also require the company to notify the USDA within that same 24 hour window.

In addition to the increase in spoiled or "bad" foods making their way into stores, the automation systems have also increased the number of reported "object" cases.  As the machinery processes the food, there is more potential for parts to break off and be passed along with the food product.  Again, visual inspections would have normally caught these situations.


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