In an effort to establish farm-to-table traceability in the food supply to help prevent foodborne illness outbreaks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rule in September 2020 to establish additional traceability recordkeeping requirements (beyond what is already required in existing regulations) for products on the Food Traceability List.
While the FDA in the process of finalizing these regulations, the Food Traceability Leadership Consortium (FTLC), which was formed in March by technology partner ReposiTrak Inc., has launched a food traceability solution that will meet or exceed FDA requirements at a cost that will have no material impact on supplier margins or consumer prices.
Consisting of some of the largest retailers and wholesalers in the United States, the FTLC quickly developed a set of guiding principles for solution evaluation of the FDA mandate: low cost, easy to implement, and meets or exceeds FDA guidelines. Based on these principles, the consortium is engaging the ReposiTrak global supply chain platform to form a Traceability Network for end-to-end traceability.
“The challenge posed by FSMA Section 204 is unprecedented and will require the collaboration of literally thousands of companies to share key data elements for shipments,” said Randy Fields, chairman and CEO of ReposiTrak. "For more than 20 years, the ReposiTrak platform has captured, managed and shared data up, down and across the supply chain on a massive scale, and done so at extremely low costs for our customers. Our current supply chain and supplier compliance platform forms a network of more than 300,000 facilities, from farms to stores, which makes ReposiTrak uniquely positioned to deliver on the FDA traceability mandate.”
The Traceability Network built on the ReposiTrak platform will electronically extract key data elements from existing supplier systems and documents at critical tracking events to “stitch” together an electronic pedigree of each product. Because the solution leverages existing ReposiTrak technology and the facility network mirrors the food supply chain, the cost can be spread across the network to deliver a solution that's easy to adopt and affordable for even the smallest suppliers.
“A patchwork of dozens of systems and schemes all trying to maximize a good return will impose crippling expense and operational complexity on the industry, which will ultimately hurt the consumer,” continued Fields. “By leveraging an established network solution that is already highly scaled but has plenty of capacity, we can deliver extraordinarily low-cost traceability for everyone in the supply chain, with minimal operational and financial impact.”
About 48 million people in the United States — one in six — get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FSMAis transforming the nation’s food safety system by shifting the focus from responding to foodborne illness to preventing it.
Murray, Utah-based ReposiTrak provides retailers, suppliers and public-sector agencies with a solution suite to help reduce risk and remain in compliance with regulatory requirements; enhance operational controls; source and discover new vendors; and increase sales with brand protection. ReposiTrak’s cloud-based platform’s integrated applications consist of three product families — compliance and risk management, supply chain solutions, and MarketPlace sourcing.