Earlier this month, the FDA and the IFT (Institute of Food Technologists) announced that two pilot projects will be launched to explore the methods for fast and effective tracing of foods. The projects have been initiated as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, a federal statute signed into law earlier this year intended to improve the detection of food borne illnesses and mitigate potential dangers in the supply chain. The new pilot project will consist of two studies, one which is specifically targeted to fresh produce and one that will focus on processed foods. The fresh produce pilot project will involve processors and distributors of raw fruits and vegetables and will determine the foods that should be considered “high-risk” moving forward.
In the wake of the current cantaloupe Listeria outbreak, the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade, taking steps towards an improved traceability process could not be more timely. As many as 16 people have died and another 72 have fallen ill since the recall was announced earlier this month. Given the month-long incubation period, more deaths are expected in the coming weeks. The CDC has identified the source of the outbreak as Jensen Farms in Colorado, who publicly stated “We hope that the investigation into the entire supply chain from farm to retail identifies the source of the contamination so that appropriate steps can be taken to prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again.”
This is precisely what the FDA pilot projects are hoping to accomplish. With improved recordkeeping requirements for high-risk foods, suspect products can be identified faster and recalled immediately, reducing the number of consumers affected by such an outbreak. The pilot projects in conjunction with the Produce Traceability Initiative are helping move toward a standardized produce traceability program.
As efforts towards this solution grow in the next year, we will see a growing need for electronic traceability options and data collection solutions from Ryzex and our partners. Electronic traceability will not only result in more rapid response to contamination, but can lead to more targeted recalls and overall lower costs of recalls for distributors. In collaboration with our partners, we can help provide solutions to help identify, track and manage products from “farm to fork”, allowing growers and distributors to see the benefits of improved supply chain management. Ryzex will also be participating in the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention October 14th-17th in Atlanta, Georgia which will include workshops on Traceability, Food Safety, and the recently launched traceability pilot programs.
Stay tuned for updates following the convention as well as future posts on Produce Traceability and what Ryzex and our partners can do to help work toward a standardized, electronic traceability system for the entire supply chain.