Who says that UID tracking need only be used for military assets? The recent outbreak of salmonella in egg production presents an excellent opportunity for the use of UID in America’s food chain.

From a weekend news article:
“Brand names that are believed to be linked to the outbreak are: Lucerne, Albertsons, Mountain Dairy, Ralphs, Boomsma, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemp. The recalled eggs were packaged between May and August of 2010. If you have suspect eggs, check the dates and codes stamped on the end of the carton. The plant numbers affected are P-1026, P-1413, and P-1946. The dates (recorded in the “Julian format”) range from 136 to 225, according to a statement by the Egg Safety Center. For example, eggs in a carton marked with the number P-1026 137 should not be eaten.”

The FDA should institute a more granular marking and tracking methodology, such as UID, to isolate “tainted” goods. As you can see from the statement above, tainted eggs can be isolated only by brand and Julian date, a very rough methodology at best. The Iowa-based eggs are sold through over a dozen brands, creating a tremendous and hugely expensive mess for the egg industry.

If a UID type system were required in the food chain, every carton and case would be uniquely labeled, with the information stored in a central database. Products such as eggs would be immediately traceable from the farm or production facility to the grocery shelf. Consumers would be safer, not only because of quick recall ability but also because of the transparency of brand names.