New software aims to stem food borne illnesses
March 9, 2012
In a few months time, the software service company Park City Group Inc. will carve into new territory with the launch of its latest project, the Park City Group Global Food Registry. The Park City Group Global Food Registry, a working title for the new software, builds on the company’s forte: providing software for food chain businesses that makes tracking, ordering and invoicing easier.
While providing ways for companies to do business more efficiently is the focus of Park City Group, the registry branches away from that focus. Rather than following the money, the new registry tracks food from shipment to shipment all along the food chain, providing a new system in pinpointing where food borne illnesses originate. And with the food tracking software, the company hopes to add ways to track medicinal drug manufacturing in the United States.
"The reality is that to this point, no technology out there enables quick tracking and tracing with the food supply," said Park City Group CEO and Chairman Randy Fields. "First, you have to figure out the source of the product, and it’s the type of product that tends to move among several hands once it leaves farm. From farm, to processor, to distributor, to wholesaler, to retailer, the food chain is very long and very complex."
"Even if we know where the problem started, we still have to figure out where product went," he added.
Creating the registry started as a conversation between Fields and a friend, former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt. Leavitt, who also served under the Bush Administration as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, heard about the software Park City Group was already using, the two started collaborating on how a similar software program could track the actual food. This week Mike Leavitt’s company, Leavitt Partners, announced a partnership with Fields.
"Our partnership with the Leavitt Partners, the world’s foremost authority of food and drug safety, will provide the knowledge and reputation that not only are we technically sound, but that the technology will be well-applied to the problem of tracking and safety."
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Leavitt Partners is an internationally-known health care and food safety consulting firm. The two companies plan to work together in creating transparency from farm to the fork, and from the manufacturer to the pharmacy in the pharmaceuticals industry.
"The most important thing about this project is that it will save lives and prevent illness," Fields said. "That will increase the confidence among consumers in the supply chain.
"Right now, people are losing confidence. Every time a new outbreak shows up, people lose a piece of that confidence."
The current system of tracking a food borne illness is done manually, Fields said, that there is no electronic system in place that follows food. Because outbreaks are traced the old fashioned way, Fields said it can take a month or more to find the origins of an outbreak and all the places the contaminated food ended up.
"How much of this contaminated food is still uneaten after a month," Fields asked. "Most of it has probably already been consumed. What we really need for tracking and tracing is to massively speed up the process. Instead of a month, we should be tracking in hours or maybe a day. That’s what this program does."
The same is true for drug tracking, Fields said. Park City Group is breaking new ground, expanding into the pharmaceutical arena with the help of Leavitt Partners.
"It is new territory for the Park City Group," he said. "We don’t see much difference between packaged drugs and packaged food."
The registry is currently recruiting businesses to use the registry and is set to officially launch this June.