Supply chain compliance and quality management technology solution provider ReposiTrak Inc. is bringing suppliers and food retailers together with the Food Traceability Leadership Consortium (FTLC) to better prepare for upcoming food safety regulations. Retail industry leaders will collaborate on the development of open, low-cost, easy-to-use food-tracing technology to improve foodborne illness outbreak response and recall protocols.
Formation of the FTLC is in advance of the proposed FDA Food Traceability requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which are scheduled to impact the food industry within two years.
The proposed FSMA regulations require capturing batch/lot and similar shipment-level data for a wide variety of fresh produce, seafood and dairy products as they move through the supply chain. This is a massive data management challenge, as it represents thousands of products, tens of thousands of locations, and millions of critical tracking events on a near-daily basis. ReposiTrak stressed that cumbersome label and scan approaches involving manpower and process changes will be economically and operationally unsustainable at this scale of activity.
Combining ReposiTrak’s scalable supply chain data-sharing platform with the knowledge of seasoned retailers, wholesalers and suppliers will enable the consortium to gain experience with, and shape a practical and cost-effective technology for, food traceability success.
“The ReposiTrak platform helps thousands of companies in the food supply chain meet current food safety regulatory requirements, so we are fully aware that many companies believe the proposed food traceability regulations will impose onerous financial and operational burdens on the industry,” said Randy Fields, chairman and CEO of Murray, Utah-based ReposiTrak. “There is an affordable technology-enabled solution for the batch-/lot-level data tracking necessary to support food traceability, based on the ReposiTrak platform, which automatically handles similar data flows between trading partners on the scale of tens of millions of order/store/SKU data transactions daily.”
The goal of the consortium is to create and execute a collaborative plan to deploy food shipment track-and-trace technology and prepare the industry for any potential changes to FSMA.
Added Fields: “If an ‘every man for himself’ approach to food traceability prevails, the industry could end up with a hodgepodge of non-interoperable systems. This will create a ‘balkanized’ supply chain where systems can’t share critical traceability data between trading partners, resulting in massive operational complexity. Food retailers can’t afford to let that happen, which is why we are engaging the industry now on a solution that involves no new labeling, no operational process change, and is affordable down to the smallest supplier.”
FTLC is an invitation-only group of food retailers, wholesalers and select suppliers.
ReposiTrak, a wholly owned subsidiary of Park City Group, provides retailers, suppliers and public-sector agencies with solutions to help reduce risk and remain in compliance with regulatory requirements, enhance operational controls, source and discover new vendors, and increase sales with unrivaled brand protection.
Many food retailers understand the importance traceability and are incorporating their own programs. For example, Albertsons Cos. works with Cruz, California-based FishWise to improve seafood traceability, while Stop & Shop partners with the Portland, Maine-based Gulf of Maine Research Institute to work with seafood suppliers to ensure traceability.
Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons operates 2,252 retail stores predominantly under the banners Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s, Star Market, United Supermarkets, Market Street and Haggen. Albertsons is No. 8 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food retailers in North America. The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC, an Ahold Delhaize USA company, operates more than 400 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 11 on The PG 100.