May 27, 2023
IFT analyzes low-cost traceability solutions

The Institute of Food Technologists has created a report based on the 90 submissions to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2021 Low- or No-Cost Tech-Enabled Traceability Challenge.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) report to the FDA on the traceability challenge is intended to contribute to ongoing industry discussions about the role of technology in traceability and provide high-level recommendations to key stakeholders on advancing the tech-enabled traceability landscape.

There are different types of technologies available when considering traceability solutions. Graphic courtesy International Food Technologists

“IFT’s Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC) has played a central role in traceability for approximately one decade,” Blake Harris, technical director of the GFTC, said in a news release. “As such, the GFTC was ideally positioned to develop this independent report analyzing recent technological hardware, software, and data-analytics developments for traceability end users.”

FDA provided IFT with critical background materials to independently evaluate and analyze the private sector traceability solution submissions received during the challenge. The report discusses current trends, identifies themes from the challenge submissions, and examines how increased collaboration can promote a more digital, traceable, and safe food system. Specifically, the report examined how improvements in interoperability, support and infrastructure, usability and cost could provide opportunities for future industry improvements.

“IFT recognizes that the knowledge, means and technology have been developed to make end-to-end tech-enabled traceability a reality, but this cannot be achieved without collective action and continued innovation among the diverse food industry community,” Harris said in the release. “Developing low-cost traceability solutions that are intuitive to all levels of experience, available in multiple languages, promote the use of data standards and data communication protocols, and consider applicability to specific supply chain segments or commodities are critical for advancing traceability.”

The report is an important resource for industry stakeholders to advance food traceability concepts as outlined under the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint. FDA will use the report recommendations to educate stakeholders on food traceability considerations and continue to foster important conversations among food supply constituents on the importance of tech-enabled traceability.

“Promoting tech-enabled traceability is critical to advancing FDA’s public health and consumer protection missions,” Donald A. Prater, acting director of FDA’s Office of Food Policy and Response, said in the release. “IFT’s report details innovative and collaborative opportunities for food industry stakeholders, of all sizes, to develop low-cost digital tools that could help firms speak the same traceability language, improve supply chain efficiency, and when necessary, remove unsafe food from the market.”

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