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New Mock Trace Back/Trace Forward Report Released

Food Basket

December 16, 2009

The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) today is announcing the release of a new report developed by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).

The report summarizes the findings of a mock trace back/trace forward exercise commissioned by CFSAN. The mock trace-back/trace forward exercise revealed that there is potential to expedite trace-backs by visualizing supply chains to find points of commonality based on data availability, capture, and readiness. The exercise also showed the value of collaboration to reach a shared goal and the need for standardization of data elements and interoperability necessary for trace-back/trace forward investigations.

The foundation for this work began in August 2008, following the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak, with the “Harvard University Executive Session on Food Safety” convened by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. The Harvard Kennedy School brought together federal and state food safety officials, leading information technology firms, and several stakeholders in the tomato supply chain, including trade association and industry representatives from various segments of the supply chain.

The FDA charged IFT with organizing and implementing a mock trace-back/trace forward exercise and with evaluating the exercise including key issues and lessons learned in platform design, technology needs, data gaps and data management. IFT also reviewed the usage of similar technology platforms to store and manage industry product tracing data on a national scale for fresh produce and its relevance to other food items.