“As far as we’re concerned, their 11 recommendations match with the PTI. The report recommends the FDA use the work the industry is currently doing. That’s a way of saying what PTI has been doing works extremely well for the produce industry.”
Vache said the report recommends FDA encourage and support 15 industry-led initiatives and develop implementation guidelines.
That includes electronic records, uniform recordkeeping requirements and not allowing exemptions based on risk classification, Vache said.
Additionally, the report recommends FDA inspectors clearly and consistently articulate what they’re looking for during facility inspections. Vache said that should help speed traceback by avoiding inspectors searching through dead ends.
Elliott Grant, founder and chief marketing officer for YottaMark, Redwood City, Calif., said a report published by GS1 US, Lawrenceville, N.J., also examines traceability systems.
“It came to the conclusion that PTI is good for all industries — not just produce,” Grant said.
“We know industries like meat, poultry and seafood are all very interested in how to improve their traceability. That report puts the produce industry in a good situation.”
William Kanitz, founder and president of Venice, Fla.-based ScoringAg Inc., said sanitation procedures remain critical for traceability.
Seed to store
To ensure distinct lot numbers covering each day’s produce, Kanitz said growers are required to sanitize their operations more.
“Traceability is absolute,” he said. “It will trace you back to the prevention practice you performed during growing, harvesting, processing and packaging. It will tie all the prevention practices from the beginning to the end to a lot number that’s traceable so people can always find them.”
For more than two years, Brooks Tropicals LLC, Homestead, Fla., has employed traceability on all the fruit it grows.
“Now it’s vertical,” said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing.
“Food safety not only involves fields and harvesting crews, but every single aspect in the chain of events that brings produce from the field or plan to the grocery store. I wouldn’t exactly say it’s easy to achieve, but it’s easier to achieve when you’re someone like ourselves that does everything from seed to box.”