GFTC Leafy Green Traceability Pilots

Leafy Green Traceability Pilots

IFT’s GFTC and several food industry organizations collaborated with industry stakeholders to support the New Era of Smarter Food Safety. Leafy green traceability pilots reveal the value of sharing extended product information during a traceback investigation.

IFT’s GFTC and several food industry organizations collaborated with industry stakeholders to support the New Era of Smarter Food Safety. Leafy green traceability pilots reveal the value of sharing extended product information during a traceback investigation.

Partner Organizations

  • FMI-The Food Industry Association
  • GS1 US
  • International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) 
  • Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)
  • Produce Marketing Association (PMA)
  • United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh)

Overview

  • Partners included growers, distributors, and both independent and chain retailers from July through October.
  • The pilots focused on various romaine-containing products with consideration for different product/supply chain configurations.
  • The pilots showed that investigations into foodborne illness outbreaks could be streamlined and conducted more effectively when supply chain partners provided extended product information during tracebacks. 
  • The use of a standard template called the Produce Traceback Template to exchange pertinent product information was found to enhance the speed of tracing procedures. 
  • All three pilots were successful in tracing the source of the affected product. 
  • Leafy Greens Task Force Charter (PDF) provides additional details of the project’s goals and objectives
GFTC Leafy Green Traceability Pilots

Leafy Green Traceability Pilots Full Report

The pilot report provides guidance on a path forward for future use of the template including additional industry training and modifications to maximize effectiveness and increase ease of use.

Read the Full Report (PDF)
seafood

Get the GFTC Newsletter

Stay up-to-date on all the latest developments in food traceability

Subscribe

FDA’s Overall Goal and Objectives

Work with leafy green stakeholders to design and initiate a pilot that will deliver the key traceability concepts needed for scaling better industry practices such as testing interoperability of tracing systems and public-private data sharing. For more, see the FDA Leafy Greens Action Plan.

  • Provide industry with better visibility into Coordinted Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) traceability processes
  • Examine utility of Produce Traceback Template, which was an outcome of the Romaine Task Force

Pilot Process

The pilots tracked romaine lettuce through three separate supply chains, starting with actual consumer purchases made with loyalty cards or credit cards. Small teams of industry experts mimicked FDA’s role in conducting the traceback, including determining the data to be requested, and how to format the requests for such data. Supply chain members, starting with the point-of-sale or point-of-service, used the template to provide key data elements that allowed an item to be traced back to its source. The expert groups conducting the traceback analyzed the information provided by each supply chain node to determine next steps. 

Key Findings Although the participants stated they would adopt the template in the future, the pilots revealed opportunities to refine the template, and highlighted the need for a greater focus on education. The pilot report provides guidance on a path forward for future use of the template including additional industry training and modifications to maximize effectiveness and increase ease of use.

Notably, the data that enabled each of the teams to independently and successfully identify the finished product lot purchased by the consumer is not currently captured by the template. These data included business intelligence, such as sales data, stock rotation, inventory controls and delivery schedules. These were critical in bracketing the scope of the traceback.

IFT Leafy Green Pilot Press Release