After reviewing traceability rules from 21 countries, the Global Food Traceability Center has published a guidance document that suggests a uniform, worldwide approach and explains when and where traceability should be documented.
Published in the September issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, the center’s best practices guidance document became available on the Web Aug. 19 at http://tinyurl.com/GFTCguidelines. The publication of the traceability guidance document comes one year after the Chicago’s nonprofit Institute of Food Technologies established the Global Food Traceability Center.
Ed Treacy, vice president for supply chain efficiencies at the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del., was one of dozens of experts from businesses, industry groups, academia and governments who worked on the guidance document. He is also the current chairman of the International Federation of Produce Standards.
“The hope is for everyone in the world to have the same (requirements) for collecting information and keeping records,” Treacy said. “That way you don’t have to worry about how to do business with someone in another country and there won’t be any extra cost to do business with one country compared to another because everybody will be doing the same thing.”
Another subject matter expert who helped with the document, HarvestMark’s founder and chief technology officer Elliot Grant, said the guidance was created “for the good of all.”
“The goal is to create a shared framework and language for talking about, and digitally capturing, trace events in the food supply chain across multiple food types,” Grant said. “In fact, it should ultimately allow different software solutions to talk to each other.”
The guidance document is designed primarily for regulators around the world who are writing or revising food safety and traceability rules and regulations, according to its introduction section. It cites the global need for traceability during food-related disease outbreaks and provides the context of what some countries already require and what industry considers reasonably possible.
“The challenge being faced today is the gap between regulatory requirements and the feasibility of industry implementation,” according to the guidance introduction. “This document presents food traceability best practices guidance, and addresses the unknowns and gaps in understanding.”