IFT to Perform FDA Pilot Projects on Food Traceability

September 19, 2011

The initiative is part of a mandate of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which requires FDA to conduct such pilot studies as well as to establish recordkeeping requirements for high-risk foods.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) announced it will be leading two pilot programs for FDA, intended to test and study various methods for tracing food products in the supply chain so that if there is a food-related health outbreak, products can be quickly identified and recalled.

The initiative is part of a mandate of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which requires FDA to conduct such pilot studies as well as to establish recordkeeping requirements for high-risk foods. The pilot trials will be completed next year, after which FDA says it will initiate rulemaking on recordkeeping requirements for high-risk foods.

During the project, IFT will involve multiple stakeholders, including state regulators, USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service, and consumer groups. Among its goals, IFT must ensure that the pilot projects reflect the diversity of the food supply and are practical for businesses of all sizes.

The United Fresh Produce Association commented positively on the project, with the association’s vice president of supply chain management Dan Vaché, stating: “Our industry has been devoted, since the genesis of the Produce Traceability Initiative in 2008, to achieving reliable whole-chain traceability for fresh fruits and vegetables. FDA’s announcement of these pilot programs is an encouraging validation of the hard work we’ve invested to date on this effort, and we enthusiastically support both FDA and IFT in this effort. We have heard repeatedly from leaders at FDA, including Deputy Commissioner for Foods Mike Taylor, that the produce industry knows best how to move the needle on traceability, and we are committed to making that insight available to IFT. We look forward to providing the resources and assistance of the entire industry as the pilots move forward, and given the groundbreaking progress the industry has made thus far through the Produce Traceability Initiative, we hope that we can share what we’ve accomplished and learned, cut down on any potential duplication of efforts, and help the pilots be as successful as possible.”