The path toward interoperable seafood traceability technology architecture

February 19, 2016

A paper in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety outlines the processes businesses in the seafood industry will need to undertake in order to achieve an interoperable seafood traceability technology architecture. Effective interoperability relies on sharing a common technology architecture, in other words a common blueprint or framework, among the systems utilized by businesses operating along a value chain.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC) leads the Interoperable Seafood Traceability Technology Architecture Project, which stems from a growing realization that a need exists to establish a global, secure, interoperable support system for seafood traceability. Establishing an effective global traceability system relies on the development of a cohesive and consistent approach to the delivery of information technology capabilities and functions. Information technology architecture describes the process of achieving this through the methodical development of a common and coherent series of specifications, models, guidelines, and concepts.

The GFTC identified a wide range of practices used by the seafood industry as well as more standardized practices used by other industries that are global leaders in developing traceability systems. The industries they looked at included automotive, fresh produce, pharmaceuticals, and finance.

The authors found that the seafood industry is evolving particularly in the role of information. The research also identified key gaps, needs, and challenges for the industry, both within firms and along the supply chain. As identified previously, the existence of common standards, protocols, specifications, and guidelines (SPSG) is vital to establishing traceability systems that businesses can utilize to capture and create commercial value through implementing traceability systems. 

IFT launched the GFTC in September 2013 as a science-based, not-for-profit public-private partnership. It brings together key stakeholders in the food system to collaborate on traceability solutions and serves as an authoritative source about food traceability. It assists companies and government agencies to better understand the nature of food traceability requirements, to improve responsiveness and reliability in the event of food-related emergencies, and to increase the value and commercial benefits of food traceability.