The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) delivered to the Food & Drug Administration a new technical study that recommends guidelines to establish a comprehensive product tracing system to track the movement of food effectively from farm to point of sale or service. FDA’s Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition commissioned IFT, a nonprofit scientific society focusing on the science of food, to conduct a study on traceability in the food system.
The study’s authors included experts from academia, the industry, and the government, who collected information from 58 food companies involved in produce, packaged consumer goods, processed ingredients, distribution, foodservice, retail, and animal feed. The analysis included a review of product tracing methods, practices in non-food industries, and standards and regulations pertaining to traceability worldwide. IFT experts also proposed changes in current systems and practices to help track the movement of food products from farm to table to ultimately protect public health. The recommendations include: – Creation of a standard list of key data or information to be collected.
- Standardization of formats for expressing the information.
- Identification of the points along the supply chain, internal and between partners, where information needs to be captured.
- Comprehensive record keeping that allows the linking of information both internally and with partners.
- Key data elements provide for the flow of ingredients and movement of finished products.
- Use of electronic systems for data transfer.
- Provide data in electronic format for each point within 24 hours of an FDA request.
- IFT also recommends that all operations maintain data electronically.
- Inclusion of traceability as a requirement within audits.
- Required training and education on what compliance entails.
- The system should be simple, user friendly, and globally accepted, as well as have the ability to leverage existing industry systems.