2011 FDA Law Changes “Track and Trace” Practices

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egg w barcode-resized-600From E. Coli outbreaks to healthy eating initiatives, I’ve noticed that the food industry has been in the news quite a bit over the past couple years.  In fact, the Food Safety Modernization Act was just signed into law this past January to ensure the safety of the US food supply chain by shifting the focus of the FDA from response to prevention.  I’ve found that this has major implications for track and trace practices.  For the first time, the FDA has a legislative mandate to require comprehensive, science-based, preventive controls across the food supply chain.  Every sector in the US food supply chain is investing in traceability to improve product and distribution efficiency, monitor and control food safety and product quality, and differentiate and market products with credence attributes.

Wondering what I mean by “traceability?”  Well, in basic terms, traceability allows food items to be accounted for throughout all phases of the food chain – from being harvested on the farm to being placed on the shelves at the store.  However, traceability systems do not create credible attributes; they only provide evidence of their existence.  I have found that merely knowing where a product is in the supply chain does not improve supply management or safety unless track and trace systems are coupled with real-time inventory systems.  Simply stated, tracking food by lot in the production process does not improve food safety unless the system is linked to an effective safety control system.

Traceability is not only newsworthy, but investment worthy, too.  These benefits and federal requirements are driving the widespread development of a total track, trace and inventory control solution across the US food supply chain.  Determining new ways of tracking ingredients, food, bottles, packaging materials and everything in between will have a profound impact on the bottom line, especially those with narrow margins to begin with.

The key components of the changes in law include:

  • Preventive Controls
  • Inspection and  Compliance
  • Imported Food Safety
  • Response
  • Enhanced Partnerships

At this point in time, with pending audits approaching, I am finding that companies are looking for ways to ensure they are compliant, which means finding the best track and trace solution for their specific needs.  If you are looking for assistance determining your best approach, feel free to contact me or one of my colleagues.

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