New FDA Food Traceability Rule Proposal

In an effort to lay a solid foundation for “farm to table” traceability the FDA has recently proposed a new rule affecting the entire US Food Industry.

In September 2020 the FDA published Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods which was a proposal for establishing additional traceability record keeping necessities for certain high-risk foods. Final ruling will be by November 2022.

While upfront it is limited to the foods at the highest risk for foodborne illness, the rule outlines evolutionary changes that could be instrumental in solving end-to-end food traceability issues across the industry. Their goal is “… efficient use of FDA and industry resources needed for outbreak investigations by potentially resulting in more precise recalls and avoidance of overly broad market withdrawals and advisories for listed foods.”

It should also be noted that an emphasis would be placed on an effort to establish supplementary traceability record keeping necessities “beyond what is already needed in existing regulations” per the agency. A potential issue for many food and beverage companies.

FDA Traceability Focus

In their proposed rule the focus would be on organizations that produce, process, pack or hold foods the regulator has chosen for inclusion on a food traceability list (FTL), which comprises of foods that pose particular risks to the safety as in case of foodborne illnesses. There are three areas to consider.

1. Food Traceability List (FTL)

Through a risk ranking and review process, the FDA created a list (FTL) of “high risk” foods. These are those that are most susceptible to a foodborne illness outbreak. The list encompasses a wide range of fresh foods commonly served at most restaurants.

2. Harmonization

With greater industry collaboration and more efficient processes in place, outbreak reactions can happen faster.

Frank Yiannas, the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response stated that “we are short of an orchestrated system of traceability from farm to fork that is universally understood and used. This means that during an outbreak investigation, our capability to quickly track and trace particular food products across the supply chain is often obstructed by a lack of data. What we are proposing today has a direct influence on averting foodborne illness”.

3. Technology

FDA has made a strong endorsement of the use of electronic data exchange over more manual methods of sharing supply chain data (PDFs, spreadsheets, paper documents). While the current economic climate may not allow some to invest heavily in technology now, this new rule suggests that over time, the long-term returns in digitization can contribute to an ideal future state of automated, tech-enabled traceability.

This is where Coolearth Software can help. Converting your current manual methods of data collection to a full-on electronic data exchange is a no-brainer for us. No more clipboard paper checklists, endless error-prone spreadsheets with time consuming collection of data for any kind of elementary “traceability” recall.

“Solutions working in unison for all phases of the ingredient tracking, inventory control, labeling, processing, packaging, warehousing, and distribution operations.”

We are experts at traceability. Give us a call if you would like to learn more.

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