The FDA has recently started a quarterly podcast that is focusing on the new era for smarter food safety initiative that is composed of four core elements.
Core Element 1: Tech-Enabled Traceability
Core Element 2: Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention and Outbreak Response
Core Element 3: New Business Models and Retail Modernization
Core Element 4: Food Safety Culture
The podcast features the hosts of the podcast Frank Yiannas, Andrew Kennedy, and Kari Irvin discussing the first core element (Tech-Enabled Traceability). Their featured panelists include Dr. Alison Grantham (IFT Global Food Traceability Center), Dr. Hilary Thesmar (FMI: The Food Industry Association), and Angela Fernandez (Vice- President of Community Engagement GS1 US).
The podcast series starts off talking about Core Element 1: Tech-Enable Traceability. Each of the featured panelists have experience in implementing traceability programs at various stages in a supply chain.
If you would like to read the transcript or listen to it, click HERE.
Frank Yiannas starts off by introducing that the FDA new Era of Smarter Food Safety will be, “... people-focused, FSMA based, and technology-enabled”.
An important term used for achieving this sort of tech-enabled traceability is interoperability. Interoperability is the ability of computer systems to use and exchange information. This was touched on several times as a key component of achieving the FDA’s Smarter Food Safety Plan.
As the industry starts to transition from paper records to digital ones, the simplification and consistency of how the digital ones fit into the supply chain are important. It is imperative for all of the systems to work together. Another part of interoperability is that a global standard of information will need to be shared. Alison Graham noted that different steps in the supply chain are more or less likely to share information. The example she gave was in the seafood supply chain, where the fisheries are willing to share everything, but as you head up the supply chain the processors are less likely to want to share all their information.
Another topic that was discussed was what is going to be the best way to link the internal to external traceability. In other words, how do we transfer data from the commodity to the brand owner. Currently, the location you are in the supply chain limits your access to information. Taking down this barrier will help increase traceability. This communication roadblock needs to be overcome in order to have transparency from farm to fork.
During the question section of the podcast. Angela Fernandez said the GS1 is working on delivering a 2-D barcode that is web-enabled. This would allow one to access the products information through scanning the barcode via their phone. This could also help during a recall or even to help to inform the grocery store that a product is close to expiration.
For me, the main takeaway is that traceability is going to utilize tech-enabled traceability software solutions to make a completely transparent supply chain.
To be able to achieve a harmonious system all new technologies will need to follow the same data standards. The ultimate goal of a fully integrated traceability system is that a consumer could scan a barcode on the food product they bought and they are able to see along the entire supply chain all the way to the farm where their product came from.
Document Compliance Network is helping to tech-enable the supplier documentation and verification of the food traceability component. DCN will automatically reach out to your suppliers when a document is missing or expired. Normally a specific person would have to manually track and organize the documentation received from suppliers. This could lead to having an expiring document being missed, and therefore creating a gap in your traceability. This gap also means that you are not document audit ready at all times. DCN will make sure that you are always document audit ready.
👉 Next Recommended Reading: Tips for Being Food Safety Document Audit Ready
About The Author:
Daria Van De Grift is the Client Success Manager at Document Compliance Network. Daria handles customer service inquiries, software program set up, and creates relevant scientific content for the team.
Daria has received both her bachelor's and master's degrees in Food Science and Technology from Oregon State University.
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