Major grocery stores and food-service distributors will soon insist their suppliers keep track of inventory and shipments in order to trace products back to the point of origin, DC Velocity recently reported. The efforts needed to better understand the source of food contamination, and properly hold accountable the organization responsible for the contamination.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in early 2011 and required food supply chain stakeholders to be able to trace their products, which is being called "farm-to-fork traceability." New aspects of the law are being crafted with significant industry input, DC Velocity reported, but it's unclear when these additions will be published. One industry expert said many large food growers have already begun complying with the FSMA, but some smaller producers have yet to implement the technology systems that keep track of inventories and distribution channels.
However, those growers and other food suppliers that fail to use inventory barcode scanner systems and related technology to manage deliveries could lose business in the long run, the news source stated, as more food retailers are demanding higher accountability from their suppliers.
"What retailers are telling me is that once the mandate is out, they will start pushing back on smaller growers, telling them that if they don't become compliant, they are not going to do business with them," the expert told DC Velocity.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration called FSMA the "most sweeping reform" related to food safety the agency has undertaken in more than 70 years. The FDA said product tracing systems are important in order to document the production and distribution chain of foods. With these systems in place, if there is an outbreak of food contamination that leads to a federal recall of a food product, the agency can easily determine the source of contamination, the FDA website stated.
"Product tracing systems enable government agencies and those who produce and sell food to take action more quickly when an outbreak of foodborne illness occurs or contaminated product is identified, thus preventing illnesses," the website stated. "Actions include removing a product from the marketplace and alerting the public if a product has already been distributed."
The FDA will want to know as much information as possible about a product, including who handled it and how it was transported through a supply chain - which is data that information tracking software systems can easily gather. These systems will prove invaluable when the federal agency demands information on a product, which it typically expects to receive within 24 to 48 hours of a request, DC Velocity reported.