While limited to certain foods, the proposed rule is designed to create a first-of-its-kind standardized approach to traceability record keeping, paving the way for the food industry to adopt and leverage more digital, tech-enabled traceability systems in the future.
“At a high level, what this is really trying to achieve is to lay the foundation for a more standardized approach to food traceability by harmonizing and identifying what are the records that need to be care, and in turn, serving as a catalyst for greater end-to-end digital food transparency,” Frank Yiannas, FDA deputy commissioner, tells Food Quality & Safety.
The proposed rule is looking to correct what he notes is often “one step up and one step back” with regard to other countries’ proposals for food traceability, where people are keeping records in different ways with no standardized data.
“What the FDA has done here is require people to ‘speak in the same or similar language,’ which will allow us to make those connections and show how food travels from farm to table,” he says. “This is a game changer in food traceability in that it identifies very appropriately and astutely in a 21st century fashion the key data elements and the critical tracking events that are needed.”
Yiannas notes that the proposal is aimed at all food manufacturers, processors, packers, and those who hold foods on the Food Traceability List (FTL).
“Working together, we will advance food traceability and usher in a new era of smarter food safety that benefits producers and consumers,” he said. “Over the course of the next 100 days, you should expect significant announcements about our plan.”
There will be a series of public meetings about the proposal before a final rule is approved.