Produce Traceability Initiative supporters are reveling in a recent Food and Drug Administration-commissioned report that supports the industry’s work on traceability.
The report enters discussion as the industry awaits the FDA’s traceability rules.
The March 4 “Pilot Projects for Improving Product Tracing along the Food Supply System Final Report” by the Institute of Food Technologists concentrated on processed foods and high-risk fresh fruits and vegetables.
Ed Treacy, vice president of supply chain efficiencies for the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del., said the study helped PTI efforts.
He said the report makes 10 recommendations to the FDA that should help the agency develop regulations, which include traceability.
In line with PTI
“That report and recommendations all support the PTI,” Treacy said.
“It aligns perfectly with it. The report is further verification of the PTI. The assumption is FDA will take that report under advisement and influence the crafting of regulations. We’re waiting to see what those regulations are, but we are very confident that, like that report, the regulations will align with the PTI.”
The FDA’s traceability rules will become the foundational piece for the produce industry to move forward, said Kevin Brooks, chief marketing officer with FoodLink, Los Gatos, Calif.
“That will be the regulation that we will pay a lot of attention to,” he said.
“It doesn’t solve all the problems you need solved but it certainly sets the bar at a level we think is good and right, and there’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears put into getting it right.
“We’re not sure when it will be released, but the point is it’s coming. People realize it’s coming and in our lifetime. People are starting to think what they can do given reasonable assumptions on what’s in there (the rules).”
Because of the report’s length, Dan Vache, the Redmond, Wash.-based vice president of supply chain management for United Fresh Produce Association in Washington, D.C., said he isn’t sure how many people will read it.
Though the FDA is accepting comments on the report until April 5, Vache said some requested an extension of the comment period to May 15 to match the comment period for the Food Safety Modernization Act.
“The bottom line of the report is it does not differ or go against anything we’ve been doing with the PTI,” Vache said.