Last week I posted my supply chain predictions for 2009, the number three of which was my belief that supply chain risk management and mitigation will be a required key competency in 2009.  We did not have to wait all that long to get the first sober reminders. The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) is now collaborating with public health officials in many states as well as other federal agencies to investigate a new outbreak of human infections due to Salmonella serotype Typhimurium.  A CDC update bulletin indicates that 388 persons in 42 states have been infected thus far. The CDC believes that this outbreak can be traced back to September of 2008, but as yet cannot specifically identify the specific cause, although this strain of salmonella is typically found in poultry, cheese or unpasturized milk products. The CDC also reminds us that this type of investigation can take many weeks, since no obvious common traits or dining occurrences have been identified. Readers can recall the lessons provided from the last major U.S. outbreak of Salmonella that occurred from May through August of last year.  That outbreak first started with a suspicion of contaminated salsa, which was later suspected to be tomatoes.  It wasn’t until August that the CDC focused on Mexican grown jalapeno and serrano peppers as the cause.  In this 2008 incident, 1300 people were reported as sickened and blameless U.S. tomato growers incurred over $300 million in loses.  If your company produces food products in any of these suspected sectors, you may want to be very diligent to the ongoing CDC investigation.

In a whole other spectrum, an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle indicates that certain digital photo frames, which were one of the most popular gift items this holiday season, may be infected with malicious software. Some unscrupulous characters elected to plant malware software code that loads when initializing the digital frames, and has the ability to capture keystrokes or steal data from your personal computer.  The article indicates that 8-inch frames branded by Samsung and sold by Amazon.com,  a 9-inch Element frame sold by Circuit City, and a 1.5-inch Mercury frame sold by Wal-Mart have been reported as having been infected.  What is more interesting for risk management professionals to ponder is that this software may originate in the manufacturing process from factory testing PC’s which plant this malware on a random basis, slipping through quality assurance tests.

Two continuing reminders that supply chain risk management will indeed be a key competency for manufacturers in 2009.

Bob Ferrari