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FDA Food Traceability Challenge

A key component of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative is to encourage the development of creative financial models that are low- to no-cost solutions, proportional to benefits derived from participating, and enable human and animal food operations of all sizes to participate in a scalable, cost-effective way.

To achieve end-to-end traceability—from source to table—throughout the food safety system, the FDA launched a challenge on June 1 as a means to encourage various stakeholders, including technology providers, public health advocates, entrepreneurs, and innovators from all disciplines to develop traceability hardware, software, or data analytics platforms that are low-cost or no-cost to the end user.

The FDA recently announced 12 winners of the Low- or No-Cost Food Traceability Challenge. IFT would like to congratulate the awarded recipients, commend the FDA for their support of low and no-cost solution providers, and acknowledge the work of all those that participated in this challenge. 

Although the 12 winning solutions varied widely in supply chain segments served, challenges addressed, and technical complexity, they all hit the mark in presenting creative low-cost solutions. The winning submissions—which ranged from blockchain-based, IoT enabled, end-to-end systems to free, open-source, Excel-based software designed to help upstream actors—truly spoke to the high level of skill and experience the sector draws from to escalate traceability to new heights. The range of solutions highlights the promise of fully digitized food supply chains, which will ensure our food is safe and our food systems are resilient. In addition, the solutions also underscore the importance of implementing data standards so that Key Data Elements are consistently collected at Critical Tracking Events to allow for interoperable data exchange between various systems. 

With 90 total submissions from across the globe, IFT is excited to see the significant level of engagement, and we look forward to working together with public, private, and non-profit stakeholders as we move into the next era of food traceability.

To view a rundown of the winning submissions, check out the FDA’s Announcement page. There you’ll find more information about the challenge and a brief overview and short video for each of the winning solutions. Check out the Global Food Traceability Center to learn more about IFT’s work on food traceability. 

About the Author

Blake Harris, CSCP, is a senior food traceability manager at IFT. 

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