Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Produce Traceability is Not Just for Large Companies

Traceability systems are becoming important for small to medium-sized grower shippers and distributors. The Romaine Lettuce E.coli outbreaks of 2017 and 2018 showed the FDA that while we have spent the last dozen plus years working on the Produce Traceability Initiative, we still have not reached the goal of Whole Chain Traceability. Until traceability information flows through the entire supply chain, from the grower to the reseller or food service operator, we will continue to experience foodborne illness outbreaks and deaths geographically spread across North America.

Most of the larger grower shippers, particularly of leafy green products, have adopted PTI. Many of them realize the benefit of case traceability labeling across all products they ship, while some do case labeling as an additional process only for retailers or food service customers that require it. My observation is that many large suppliers were ready, willing and able to do case labeling years before any retailer ever scanned a case in the stores.

There are several factors that lead me to believe we will see regulated case traceability labeling the United States within the next 18 months:
  1. While FSMA was passed in 2011 and there are now seven Produce and Animal Food regulations in place, the FDA has yet to release the reporting requirements for FSMA
  2. Canada’s Safe Food for Canadians Regulations went into effect in January of this year; these include case traceability labeling requirements for food products shipped to/from/or between Canadian provinces.
  3. The FDA spent a significant amount of time reviewing and analyzing what broke down in the traceability of the Romaine Lettuce outbreaks of 2017 and 2018
  4. Frank Yiannas, who had led the efforts at Walmart to test and implement blockchain technology, became the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response in December of 2018
  5. Consumer groups are pushing the FDA for traceability

When case traceability labeling becomes mandated, small and medium growers will need to comply or consolidate with larger growers who have case traceability handled. With this in mind, RedLine Solutions has been working with small growers and distributors to create affordable, cloud-based applications. RedLine’s applications allow them options for labeling bulk product for source traceability, managing case and pallet labeling of finished goods, and providing lot traceability on shipments. Now in its second generation, MyProduce (www.myproduce.com) has released a new standalone Pack, Print and Ship (PPS) version.  The PPS version provides traceability without the need for complex integrations with accounting or other systems. MyProduce PPS allows users to receive and label bulk and finished goods, capture source lots used in packing/repacking, and track lot numbers shipped to customers on specific orders. If you are working with Walmart WEB EDI, it will allow you to update and upload shipping information via their portal, enabling even small companies to meet their traceability compliance requirements. If you would like more information on MyProduce PPS, contact sales@myproduce.com.

About the author Todd Baggett:
Todd is the President and CEO of RedLine Solutions; a company that provides produce  traceability and inventory solutions. He is the author of “Produce Traceability for Dummies”, and has served as the Co-Chair of the PTI Technical Working Group since 2011.

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