ORLANDO, Fla. — The foodservice industry is working to adopt GS1 standards to assure safe product handling, according to participants at a panel discussion at the U Connect Live conference.

GS1 food safety conference focuses on foodserviceDuring the June 2 panel on the state of the Foodservice GS1 U.S. Standards Initiative, Mike Roach, president of Fort Worth, Texas-based broadline foodservice distributor Ben E. Keith Co., said creating industry standards through the global data synchronization network can help foodservice distributors remove waste and costs and produce a more efficient supply chain.

“At a time like now when you see dining away from home decreasing on an annualized per-capita basis, we think by having a more competitive supply chain, we will get more people dining out,” he said.  

Dennis Harrison, senior vice president of conference host GS1 US, a Lawrenceville, N.J.-based nonprofit organization that addresses supply chain problems through the use of bar codes, numbering systems and data synchronization, described the progress of the GS1 initiative. He said GS1 US has 1,200 companies participating in global data synchronization. He said170 companies self-reporting their implementation status.

“Just putting a GTIN (Global Trade Identification Number) on a product doesn’t do us a whole lot of good unless we do something with it,” Harrison said. “We are moving away from faxes and any paper-type transactions. We need to identify locations and products in a very clear manner to make that happen.”

Harrison said GS1 US would like to see 75% of the foodservice industry measured by revenue using the GS1 standards by 2015.

Dan Vache, vice president of supply chain management for United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., said Mike Taylor, the Food and Drug Administration’s deputy director in charge of traceability, complemented the produce industry for its traceability efforts.

“We control our destiny,” Vache said. “They (the FDA) like what we’re doing. It’s electronics. We can get to records quickly within 24 hours. They like the standards, which are global as they know our food comes from all points in the globe. Be aware that there’s so much work going on. That’s very important because we do control our own destiny.”

The event was May 31-June 3.