SALINAS, Calif. --
Strawberry grower Red Blossom Farms yesterday announced the launch of a system that will offer retailers and consumers access to extensive traceback information for individual clamshell containers of strawberries. Using product codes printed on each clamshell, handlers at all levels of the distribution chain -- including consumers -- can learn the city, state and ranch where the berries were picked, as well as the grower, crew name, strawberry variety and pick date, by checking the code at rbtrace.com, a website maintained by Red Blossom. Calls for improved produce traceability tools have intensified since September 2006, when an E. coli outbreak sickened hundreds of consumers of fresh spinach throughout the country and heavily impacted sales of leafy greens. In Sacramento, a bill that would impose tougher standards on many of California‘s growers, and give the state‘s Department of Public Health additional, ongoing powers to oversee the industry, narrowly cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee this week.