FDA Participation, Pilot Projects, Benchmarking Report Are Highlights of May 2 PTI Leadership Council Meeting

For Immediate Release: May 5, 2011

New Orleans, La. – The May 2 meeting of the Produce Traceability Initiative’s (PTI) Leadership Council featured a first-ever status report on council member companies’ implementation progress, an update on 18 pilot projects now underway, new best practices to assist with implementation, and positive comments from Food & Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor.

The recently completed survey of Leadership Council member companies found that 79 percent of those companies are at an overall state of readiness. Specifically, 94 percent of grower/packer/shipper members, 82 percent of retailer members, 71 percent of wholesaler/broker members and 70 percent of foodservice members report that they are on track to achieve all PTI milestones by the target completion date of 2012. Further, no systemic issues to implementing the PTI were identified by council members, and working groups are already addressing the implementation challenges that members identified.

Council members received updates on activities of the PTI’s various working groups, including a report on 18 pilot projects underway. Pilot tests are being conducted involving most major produce commodities, including apples, bananas, berries, citrus, tomatoes, celery, radishes, peppers, leafy greens, melons, potatoes, onions, sweet corn and table grapes. Twenty-four companies, including but not limited to council members, are participating in the pilot projects. Projects will identify and document best practices, implementation costs and benefits, and the time required to execute a complete trace.

“The strong seller and buyer participation in the pilot projects reinforces the commitment to advancing PTI in our industry,” said Leadership Council Chair Cathy Green Burns, president of Food Lion. “We look forward to sharing the results of the pilots in the near future, and to continuing to provide valuable information to the industry in support of PTI implementation.”

Working groups also reported that several new best practices had been finalized and would be posted to the PTI website’s Resources section soon:

  • Updated best practices on case labeling;
  • Updated best practices for hybrid pallet labeling; and
  • An applet for generating voice-pick codes.

FDA’s Taylor: Don’t Wait to Implement Traceability

Presenting by telephone for a portion of the meeting, FDA’s Taylor clearly signaled his agency’s interest in collaborating with industry as FDA begins implementing the new Food Safety Modernization Act and its traceability component.

“We are keenly aware that industry has been at the forefront of understanding traceability, and in order to make progress we know we are going to need to build on and embrace the work that industry has done,” Taylor stated. When informed that some industry members are delaying implementing PTI until FDA regulations are finalized, Taylor responded, “When real progress is being made, we encourage that and we don’t want our process to be an obstacle.”

When asked what industries the PTI should model itself against, FDA Senior Advisor for Outbreak Response Sherri McGarry cited the produce industry as the traceability leaders in the food industry.

The meeting was the fourth regular meeting of the council, and the second face-to-face meeting, since the group was formed in August 2010 to provide greater supply chain participation in directing PTI activities.

“I am optimistic about the progress that has been made, we’ve clearly got a lot of momentum,” said Doug Grant of The Oppenheimer Group, who was approved as the council’s new co-chair. “We’re gaining speed with new best practices, pilot projects and other working group efforts getting underway now. And we’re very cognizant of the importance of having an effective solution that keeps costs and complexity to a minimum.”

Persons interested in participating in PTI pilot projects are invited to contact Produce Marketing Association’s Ed Treacy by email at [email protected] or telephone +1 (302) 607-2118. Persons interested in joining a PTI working group should contact GS1 US’s Patricia Buccheri by email at [email protected]. Industry members are encouraged to visit the official PTI website at www.producetraceability.org for assistance and for staff contact information.

About the Canadian Produce Marketing Association

Based in Ottawa, Ontario, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) is a not-for-profit organization representing over 770 Canadian and International member companies that are active in the marketing of fresh fruits and vegetables in Canada from the farm gate to the dinner plate. CPMA members represent all segments of the fresh produce industry. CPMA’s vision is to enable and lead the produce industry by enhancing the market and facilitating trade of fresh fruits and vegetables for its members. For more information about CPMA, please visit www.cpma.ca.

About GS1 US

GS1 US, a member of GS1, is an information standards organization that brings industry communities together to solve supply-chain problems through the adoption and implementation of GS1 standards. More than 300,000 businesses in 25 industries rely on GS1 US for trading-partner collaboration and for maximizing the cost effectiveness, speed, visibility, security and sustainability of their business processes. They achieve these benefits through solutions based on GS1 global unique numbering and identification systems, bar codes, Electronic Product Code (EPC®)-based Radio Frequency Identification (RFID, data synchronization, and electronic information exchange. GS1 US also manages the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC®). www.GS1US.org

About Produce Marketing Association (PMA)

Produce Marketing Association is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing business solutions that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption. For more information, visit www.pma.com.

About United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh)

Founded in 1904, the United Fresh Produce Association serves companies at the forefront of the global fresh and fresh-cut produce industry, including growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers and allied associations. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and Western Regional office in Salinas, Calif., United Fresh and its members work year-round to make a difference for the produce industry by driving policies that increase consumption of fresh produce, shaping critical legislative and regulatory action, providing scientific and technical leadership in food safety, quality assurance, nutrition and health, and developing educational programs and business opportunities to assist member companies in growing successful businesses. For more information, visit www.unitedfresh.org.

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