PTI/FYI e-news: January/February 2013

What’s new with the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI)? This edition of PTI FYI includes:

In This Update

For more information, contact CPMA’s Jane Proctor, GS1 US Angela Fernandez, PMA’s Ed Treacy and United Fresh’s Dan Vaché

In This Update

News: No FSMA Trace Rules Yet, but Help is Available on Other Rules

The produce industry must wait longer to learn how the U.S. government plans to implement the traceability regulations of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). While two proposed regulations to implement FSMA were announced in early January – one rule on Preventive Controls on Human Food, the other on Standards for Produce Safety – FSMA’s traceability-specific rules are still pending. They will be covered in the FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) forthcoming FSMA recordkeeping rules.

While both of the proposed rules mention traceability, it is in the context of input the FDA received before the FSMA rulemaking process began. Neither rule contains specific traceability requirements. Until FSMA’s traceability requirements are released, existing U.S. traceability regulations apply (i.e., companies that are required to, should be able to trace products one step forward and one step back, per the Bioterrorism Act of 2002).

Meanwhile, the two proposed rules do apply to many companies that sell produce in the United States market. For more information, including summaries of the rules and to register for related webinars, visit PMA’s FSMA Resource Center and United Fresh’s FSMA implementation page.

Why the delay on traceability details, and when might we expect to see them? At least part of the delay is that FDA must first report to Congress about a FSMA-required traceability pilot project, before releasing traceability rules. The report on the pilot was due to Congress on July 4, 2012. While the pilot project was completed last June. FDA’s report to Congress is still pending; FSMA then directed FDA to release traceability rules on Jan. 4 of this year. FDA has not yet released its proposed traceability regulations for comment.

News: PTI Buyer Group Forms to Address Final Steps in Implementation Process

As a result of the PTI Leadership Council’s decision last October to form a working group to focus exclusively on buyer implementation issues, the new PTI Buyer Working Group held its first meeting on January 15, 2013. Co-chair, Ed Treacy of the Produce Marketing Association, provided a brief overview of what group members would like to address to continue the momentum that the PTI working groups have built over the last few years for case-level traceability in the industry. Terri Miller from Food Lion (Delhaize) volunteered to be the industry co-chair of the group.

Buyer companies represented in the group to date include: Four Seasons, Safeway, Pro*Act, Delhaize, Publix, Liberty Fruit, and Kroger. While several other buyer organizations are also in the process of assigning members to this group, all PTI volunteers are encouraged to continue to nominate and recruit individuals who are directly involved with PTI implementations at buyer organizations.

To learn more about criteria and responsibilities for participation in the group, please click here.

To begin the work on developing best practice guidance for the use of hybrid pallet tags, the first subgroup was formed at the meeting that will report back to the larger group at subsequent meetings. Other topics identified as outstanding issues for PTI implementation include: effective approaches to rolling out implementation with suppliers; when and how EDI Advance Ship Notices (ASNs) should be used; incorporating PTI implementations into mock recall processes, addressing the reluctance of risk management teams to trust traceability to the store level, and overcoming other challenges related to PTI milestones 6 and 7.

Stay tuned to the PTI website and PTI FYI for continuous updates on the efforts of the new PTI Buyer Working Group.

News: Report on Traceability in the Canadian Food Supply Chain

The Conference Board of Canada is an independent organization for applied research in Canada. In November 2012 it released, “Forging Stronger Links: Traceability and the Canadian Food Supply Chain.”

A free copy of the report is available for download here.

The report contains a few specific references to produce traceability (Oppenheimer on Page 27 and Loblaw page 34) and provides a broader perspective of traceability across the Canadian supply chain.

Resources: New Informational Flyer on Unique Product Identification

In response to questions about how PTI related to other industry projects for traceability, GS1 US, in collaboration with the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association, has developed the flyer “Unique Product Identification Addresses Various Business Process Needs.” The document is designed to assist the produce industry to better understand how current product identification and traceability trends are converging and it highlights the benefits of Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) for packaged produce, the use of GS1 DataBar barcodes for loose produce, as well as the Produce Traceability Initiative.

News: Select Articles Discussing PTI Progress

The following is a selection of recent news articles and editorials reporting on the work of PTI volunteers.

The Packer: January 3, 2013: “Now we see anywhere, depending on what DC you walk into, you’ll see anywhere from 20% to 40% of the produce cases are currently being labeled with a PTI-compliant label.”

The Packer: November 19, 2012: “We want to set the benchmark, because food safety is critical in today’s business landscape and will continue to be so moving forward.”

Capital Press: November 29, 2012: “As a PTI committee member, Meek …sees the potential for PTI to improve internal processes, potentially enabling Wada to use scanners rather than workers to monitor loading at each dock.”