(UPDATED COVERAGE, March 5) Fresh produce shippers and others in the supply chain that have adopted Produce Traceability Initiative methods can apparently breathe a sigh of relief.
As concerns of Food Safety Modernization Act mandates at the grower and food processing levels arise, pilot studies on how the act’s traceability requirements should be applied bolster the case for PTI, first outlined more than five years ago.
On March 4, the Institute of Food Technologists released a 334-page report, “Pilot Projects for Improving Product Tracing along the Food Supply System,” focusing on two specific food segments: processed foods and high-risk fresh fruits and vegetables. For the processed foods, the institute chose peanut butter and Frozen Kung Pao-style meals.
Tomatoes — domestic and imported, field- and greenhouse-grown and whole and sliced — were studied along the supply chain, according to the FDA, from field to foodservice and retail outlets.
“We looked at tomatoes because they have been involved in a number of significant and repeat outbreaks,” according to a news release from the FDA. “Tomatoes represent a complex food supply chain and were identified by most . Industry associations as a top candidate for the produce related pilot.”
The Food and Drug Administration tasked the institute with the research, which will lay the foundation for traceability mandates in the new food safety law.
“The recommendations are very sensible and consistent with PTI,” said Elliot Grant, founder of YottaMark Inc., Redwood City, Calif.
Grant said the company’s HarvestMark traceability system participated in the institute’s pilot as a technology solution providers.
“If you made investments with PTI so far, you should read this report with relief because it is very much substantiates the methodology of PTI,” Grant said.
The alliance recommends that all FDA-regulated foods be subject to uniform record-keeping requirements.
The next step in the process is a public comment period, which ends April 5. Comments can be submitted at http://www.regulations.gov (docket No. FDA-2012-N-1153), according to a news release.
The institute’s proposal aligns with the goals of the traceability initiative, said Ed Treacy, vice president of supply chain efficiencies at the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association. Treacy said he participated in working groups related to the produce pilots, which focused on eight case studies regarding .