Report on Two Traceability Pilot Projects Released by FDA

Per IDFA – Key Issues…The Food and Drug Administration released a report on Monday that details results of two product traceability pilot projects conducted by the Institute of Food Technologists under contract with FDA. The pilots, launched in 2011, were required by the Food Safety Modernization Act, which also requires FDA to establish recordkeeping requirements for high-risk foods to help in tracing products.

The pilots traced foods that had been implicated in previous foodborne illness outbreaks. One focused on chicken, peanuts and spices that are used in processed food; the other centered on tomatoes. The projects were designed to explore and demonstrate methods for rapid and effective tracing of food, including types of data that are useful for tracing, ways to connect points in the supply chain and how quickly data can be shared with FDA.

According to the executive summary, “IFT found several areas (such as uniformity and standardization, improved recordkeeping, enhanced planning and preparedness, better coordination and communications and the use of technology) in which industry improvements and enhancements to FDA’s processes would enable tracebacks and traceforwards to occur more rapidly.”

The report also reviewed the range of costs associated with improving product tracing efforts based on technologies used to capture data and communicate results.

FDA is seeking public comment on the report through April 4 and will hold three public meetings during the 30-day comment period.

Once comments have been reviewed, FDA plans to begin the rulemaking process on recordkeeping requirements for high-risk foods to help with traceability efforts. FDA will establish a definition of high-risk foods based on foodborne illness data, the likelihood that the foods have high potential for contamination and the severity of the illness attributed to those foods.

IDFA is currently reviewing the 334-page report, including IFT’s recommendations, and will submit comments. View the full Pilot Projects for Improving Product Tracing along the Food Supply System – Final Report (PDF: 5.6MB).