Food Product Tracing
Food product tracing is critical at all levels of the food system to protect public health by isolating products early to help contain a food incident. The safety of the food supply requires a comprehensive and coordinated effort among all stakeholders throughout the supply chain from farm to fork. Effective product tracing would improve the efficiency and speed of response time following a food safety triggering event, and would greatly contribute to the protection of the public health and maintain consumer confidence following such an incident.
Stemming from IFT's contract work with the US Food and Drug Administration, IFT has released a number of documents, presentations, and other resources relating to product tracing (traceability).
3/4/2013: IFT’s Report on FDA FSMA Product Tracing Pilots Released
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) today announced the public release of their report for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) focused on the outcomes of two pilot projects designed to test and study various product tracing practices for fresh produce and processed foods. This report on the pilots, which were required by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), offers recommendations to the FDA on how to improve product tracing in a way that benefits all stakeholders: for regulators to resolve foodborne illness outbreaks earlier and the food industry to respond to them quicker. You can download a copy of the final report here.
The next step for FDA is to report their recommendations to Congress and to initiate rulemaking on additional recordkeeping requirements for high-risk foods to facilitate product tracing. If you didn’t get a chance to give stakeholder input to IFT during the pilot process, the FDA will be holding three public meetings during the comment period on the proposed rule in which you can give input.
In addition to everyone identified in the report, IFT would also like to acknowledge the contribution of the following individuals/organizations in the pilots:
- Michele Southall, GS1 US
- Ravi Sankar, HCL America
For more information, please visit the following links:
If you have any questions about IFT’s traceability efforts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Technical inquiries: Tejas Bhatt at email@example.com or 202.330.4980.
Media inquiries: Mindy Weinstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312.604.0231.
3/4/2013: IFT Global Food Traceability Center Initiative
IFT is in the process of securing funding for the development of a Global Food Traceability Center. The vision for the center is to be the “go-to” resource and authoritative global voice on food traceability. IFT will create a focal point where industry, academia, regulatory agencies, and consumer groups can dialogue, collaborate, conduct research, establish best practices, and implement practical, actionable traceability solutions. The center will be a long-term exchange of knowledge, tools, and expertise. Learn more about this initiative.
1/2/2012: Update on FDA Traceability Pilots
IFT held three stakeholder input sessions in October and November in Washington DC, Chicago IL and Seattle WA. They also had an open period for stakeholder input that ended December 1, 2011. FDA chose the two products for the pilots, which are tomatoes and a ready to eat or non-ready to eat complex food product containing meat, spices, and peanut containing ingredients (like Kung Pao chicken or Pad Thai dishes). Two panels were formed to help inform these pilots (one for each pilot), which are primarily comprised of pilot participants. Additional panel members were also identified in December. Technology solution providers were solicited in December, and IFT is currently determining which of these solution providers will be part of the "collaborative platform" for the pilots.
Audio clips from the stakeholder input sessions are available for the following sessions:
If you have any questions about the pilots, please email email@example.com. Media inquiries: Mindy Weinstein at firstname.lastname@example.org 312.604.0231.
11/1/2011: Three Traceability Research Summits
IFT hosted the first summit with nearly 50 thought-leaders in traceability on July 14, 2011. Representatives from many parts of the food system, including food companies, trade associations, state and Federal government representatives, and technology providers discussed some of the key attributes of the traceability system of the future, and the key requirements and challenges related to achieving a common vision.
On the heels of a successful, thought-stimulating event in July, a group of nearly 50 product tracing experts reconvened on August 22, 2011 for the second traceability research summit. Representatives from many parts of the food system, including food companies, trade associations, state and Federal government representatives, and technology providers discussed some ongoing and future pilot studies, as well as various approaches to achieve product tracing. The meeting was held in cooperation with GS1 US, who co-sponsored the event.
A third and final traceability summit was held on November 1, 2011 at the PepsiCo Sustainability Center in Chicago, IL. Forty tracing experts attended this summit, with the most diverse group to date, coming from many trade associations, government, technology companies and the food industry. The traceability working group's "Traceability Guidance Document" was the center of discussion, with the summit group refining the KTE/CDE definitions and the ROI information.
All three traceability research summits were funded by IFT's Traceability Improvement Initiative, supported by BASF Nutrition & Health and Underwriters Laboratories at the Silver level and the Fisheries Scholarship Fund of the National Fisheries Institute at the Bronze level. The full proceedings will be published in the Journal of Food Science in 2012. Learn more about the highlights here.
9/6/2011: IFT to Execute New Product Tracing Pilot Studies for FDA
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) announced that it will lead two pilot programs for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designed to test and study various product tracing systems. The purpose of these pilots will be to identify methods to rapidly and effectively trace food products throughout the supply chain so that, during a food-related outbreak, products can be quickly identified and removed from the marketplace, which will ultimately help minimize the number of consumers affected by a contaminated product. Click here to read full story.
Further information about the pilot programs can be found at
8/2/2011: IFT conducting Food Product Tracing Technology Capabilities and Interoperability study for the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD)
Despite the best efforts of food safety professionals, contaminated food continues to enter the food supply. It is imperative that contaminated food be removed from the supply chain as quickly as possible to protect public health and stabilize markets. IFT is expanding on the findings of our previous work in traceability to understand the capability of currently available technologies to predict the downstream consequences of an upstream event, or the likely upstream source of contamination given a downstream event, and explore the interoperability of currently available traceability technology solutions. Through this project, IFT will determine i) the critical points throughout the food supply chain where product tracing data must be collected, and the appropriate data elements to collect; ii) the current capabilities of product tracing technologies; iii) the ability of product tracing technology providers to work collaboratively to trace products; iv) ways to further develop product tracing systems to increase interoperability and utility. The reports were submitted to NCFPD for this two year project that started in the fall of 2010.
Moving Ahead on Traceability. Neil Mermelstein. Food Technology June 2011, Volume 65, No. 6
Tracing Systems: An Exercise Exploring Data Needs and Design. 2009 Report (PDF)
IFT 2009 Global Food Safety and Quality Conference. June 10, 2009, Anaheim CA
Food Product Traceability: New Challenges, New Solutions. David Miller. Food Technology. January 2009, Volume 63, No. 1
IFT Food Product Tracing Webcasts
2011 Understanding Critical Tracking Events and Key Data Elements
2011 Understanding How GS1 Standards Allow Information to be Identified, Captured, and Shared
2009 The Challenges of Traceability
2009 Product Traceability - How Far Is Enough in Today's Marketplace?