In This Update
PTI Leadership Meets as Current Events Focus on Traceability
The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) Leadership Council convened June 27 to reinvigorate industry discussions on traceability in light of current events that have put a new spotlight on traceability. Council discussions included the importance of ongoing industry collaboration on traceability, and being able to track fresh produce’s “last mile.” Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Acting Deputy Director Kari Irvin was a guest at the meeting, and provided feedback on CORE’s traceback investigation of the recent foodborne illness outbreak caused by contaminated romaine.
“FDA’s romaine outbreak investigation, combined with an increasing number of fresh produce recalls, highlight the need to be able to trace our products through to the retail level,” said PTI Leadership Council Co-Chair Doug Grant of The Oppenheimer Group. “And having more buyers step up and implement PTI at distribution center and store level will also send a strong vote of confidence to our supply chain about the need for and value of traceability.”
In response to queries received from industry members following the romaine outbreak investigation, PTI’s administering organizations compiled answers to frequently-asked questions (FAQs).
In addition to providing enhanced traceability capability, companies implementing PTI report a range of other business benefits, including money-saving efficiencies in inventory management, recordkeeping and other business operations. “PTI can be a smart investment,” said Grant. To learn more, visit the PTI website.
Webinars Focus on Traceability
Join United Fresh and GS1 US as they present informational webinars on the topic of traceability in support of Food Safety Month.
Sept. 20 - United Fresh: Traceability – Is the Continued Criticism Warranted? (recording available for on-demand playback)
Sept. 27 – GS1 US: The Road to Traceability is Paved with Unique Identification
PTI in the News
PTI and produce traceability have been a hot topic recently in the press. Here is a sampling:
Canada’s SFCR Mandates Traceability
The Canadian government finalized regulations in June for implementing its Safe Food for Canadians Act of 2012, including traceability requirements. The final Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) represent years of consultation with industry including CPMA, which supports the new regulations, as well as with other stakeholders. SFCR calls for the specifics of PTI, with a few additional requirements. As industry moves to comply with SFCR, this is expected to increase PTI implementation by Canadian companies and Canadian trading partners from the United States and around the globe. Growers, packers and shippers supplying Canada will need to comply with SFCR by January 15, 2019 to meet importer requirements. (Retailers who do not also import, do not need to comply until a year later.) Companies shipping into Canada that have already implemented PTI are well positioned to be compliant with SFCR, but are encouraged to ensure they have a complete understanding of all requirements. More information is available here.
PTI’s Kennedy Moves to Global Food Traceability Center
The Leadership Council welcomed Julie McGill, FoodLogiQ director of implementation, as the PTI Technology Working Group’s new co-chair, and thanked outgoing co-chair Andy Kennedy for his service. Kennedy was named interim director of the Global Food Traceability Center in March. The Global Food Traceability Center helps the global food industry develop guides and tools to trace products through the supply chain to improve food safety, to diminish risk, and avert devastating health consequences and economic loss to the food system.
“While we very much appreciate Andy’s contributions to this group, having him at the Global Food Traceability Center is best for industry traceability’s big picture,” said PTI Leadership Council Co-Chair Doug Grant of The Oppenheimer Group.
Blockchain: Is It the Future of Traceability?
Blockchain is becoming a hot topic in traceability circles as a Walmart-led effort with IBM and other industry members is working to harness blockchain digital ledger technology to provide a farm-to-store view of the food supply chain. A pilot test traced fresh-cut mangoes back to their source in seconds rather than days. To help separate myth from reality on the promise of blockchain, check out these articles in Food Online and Produce Report.
To Reduce Requests for Label Variations, Get Involved
Shippers, are your customers requesting multiple variations on PTI case labels, creating extra work for your company? The PTI Buyer and Implementation Working Groups are looking for industry volunteers to discuss opportunities to reduce the number of different PTI label requests from receivers. If you are interested in participating in a conference call on the topic, please contact PMA’s Ed Treacy.
PTI to Update Guidance, Develop Template for Submitting Traceback Data
In light of feedback given to PTI’s Leadership Council by FDA’s CORE team about its recent romaine traceback investigation, the PTI Implementation Working Group is now in the process of updating its “Guidance for Sharing Trace-Back Data” last released in 2015. The working group will also voluntarily develop for FDA’s reaction a template that industry can use to provide all the traceback data that FDA will need, and in a consistent format. Once finalized, the updated guidance and the voluntary traceback data submission template will be posted to the PTI website at www.producetraceability.org.
Just for Fun: Traceability Quiz
Take this short quiz to help determine if you are a master or a novice of GS1-128 barcodes such as PTI’s case label. Enjoy and share!