Tag Archives: traceability

FDA

FDA Announces 12 Winners of Traceability Challenge

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
FDA

Back in May, FDA launched a technology traceability challenge with the goal of promoting innovation in the development of scalable and affordable traceability technology tools for food operations of all sizes. Today, the agency announced the winning teams and their technologies:

  • FarmTabs. Free, downloadable software run on Microsoft Excel to aid small and mid-size farmers manage records for traceability/ farm-related metrics.
  • Freshly. Traceability and batch-tracking software for small businesses (including retailers, manufacturers and distributors).
  • HeavyConnect. Cloud-based digital traceability and compliance documentation solutions, including a mobile app for producers to capture data in the field and share it across the supply chain.
  • ItemChain. Item-level traceability to each party in the supply chain.
  • Kezzler. Solution uses self-service portals to generate item-level identifiers and associate homogenized datasets at the grower level through mobile applications.
  • Mojix. Uses industry standards to link traceability events for each item or lot throughout the supply chain in an open data network.
  • OpsSmart. Cloud-based traceability software solution for food safety, recall management, and traceability in a complex supply chain.
  • Precise’s. Traceability Suite that provides end-to-end supply chain tracking to all segments of the food market, using geospatial, machine learning and IoT technologies.
  • Roambee/GSM/Wiliot’s. Solution uses low-cost IoT sensor tags in with shipment visibility and verification technologies for end-to-end traceability.
  • Rfider. Software-as-a-service that captures, secures and shares critical event data along supply chains to consumers.
  • TagOne. A role-based data capture framework that updates an open source blockchain platform, and uses industry standards to ensure interoperability, and ease of use and data security.
  • Wholechain. Supply chain traceability system that uses blockchain technology to trace products back to the original source.

The videos submitted by each winning company are available on FDA’s webpage that announces the winners.

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

If Fish Could Talk

By Susanne Kuehne
No Comments
Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Seafood fraud
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database, owned and operated by Decernis, a Food Safety Tech advertiser. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne.

Seafood fraud is still on an almost unchanged high level in Canada. Based on a 2021 investigation by Oceana Canada, 46% of 94 DNA tested seafood samples were not what the label claimed them to be. The Oceana report describes seafood traceability in Canada, the 2021 seafood fraud investigation and results, what consumers can do, and suggestions for the federal government on how to mitigate seafood fraud. These recommendations include setting up a traceability system, labeling standards, improving testing standards and better documentation in the supply chain.

Resource

  1. Oceana. (August 2021). “Seafood Fraud in Canada: 2021 Testing Results Report”.
Stephen Dombroski, QAD
FST Soapbox

Recent Recalls Emphasize Need for Quality Management Systems in the Food and Beverage Industry

By Stephen Dombroski
No Comments
Stephen Dombroski, QAD

Last month, federal authorities enacted a recall process for all Real Water brand products from AffinityLifestyles.com Inc., as a result of a fatality and multiple illnesses that might be linked to the product. In addition to the recall, there are a number of court orders being enacted to retrieve records, documentation and other information from the company. The product in question is bottled water that is chemically treated to enhance its “benefits.”

Over the last 20 or so years, as with many other food and beverage categories, the bottled water market has exploded. It began with Natural Spring Waters, then emerged into what was termed “purified waters.” Over time, carbonation and flavors, both natural and imitation, were added to enhance the products’ appeal to different demographics and to capture market share. The trend has continued to illustrate how both SKU proliferation and catering to the changing needs of the consumer has complicated the industry and made it increasingly complex. Complexity, of course, adds risk.

The Real Water situation brings to light potential issues both for the bottled water segment and for the food and beverage manufacturing industry on the whole. Beverage and food products often utilize additives to enhance flavor, add nutritional benefits, etc. In addition to these additives, many food and beverage products are produced with “reactionary” processes that claim to supercharge, enhance, and/or re-engineer something to a so-called better state. Government regulators monitor these processes to ensure that they do not cause health risks. Enhanced and more stringent labeling laws were enacted at the end of the Obama era and just recently, President Biden signed the FASTER Act that requires manufacturers to list sesame on their labels, as it is now a known allergen. In addition to additives, regulatory agencies monitor the new chemical and reactionary processes used in producing products to ensure that the integrity and safety of these products are not put at risk.

Lessons Learned from the Real Water Recall

Where does the industry go from here, and what lessons can manufacturers take away from the Real Water incident and from the increasingly complex state of food and beverage manufacturing? First, we know regulations will continue to increase, especially as incidents become more commonplace. The industry has been on high alert since the outbreak of COVID-19. Governments and industry will continue to try to determine if the virus can in fact be transmitted through food or food packaging. As food manufacturers experiment with plant-based food alternatives, employ new technologies and react to recalls, they should prepare for continued scrutiny and regulations which will impact how businesses are run.

The question that needs to be answered is: What should food and beverage manufacturers do to prepare for future changes to regulations and prevent potential safety issues?

The answer is: They should implement a quality management system and related business processes and systems tailored for the unique challenges of their industry.

F&B Manufacturers Can Improve Quality Systems to Prepare for Future Regulation and Safety Changes

Many manufacturers already have parts of this system and the processes in place, but it is surprising how many have not integrated them with their other systems. If we use the Real Water issue as a case study, there are a number of things that a manufacturer needs to do from a quality perspective in terms of processes, procedures and systems.

Traceability. Accuracy and timing is critical in the face of any recall. Track and traceability functionality built into the central manufacturing and/or quality system is an absolute must. Technology is available to visually track and trace every lot that goes out the door, whether from a company facility or a co-packer, and note where in the market it has been distributed.

Document Control. The government demanded that AffinityLifestyles.com Inc. turn over all documentation related to its products’ ingredients, processes, etc. Manufacturers need to ensure their document management systems include food safety precautions and that all process and product information needs to be in place.

Product and Process Change Management. Integrating inspection processes with control plans ensures that inspection requirements stay connected during change management. This coupled with non-conformance creation based on inspection failures results in reductions in the cost, time and complexity of change management.

Audit Processes. To comply with ever-changing regulations, effective internal audit programs must be implemented to drive compliance and continual improvement. A closed-loop system should address product, process and system audits to help manage any findings of non-conformance prior to external audits and to allow for corrective actions to be implemented before an issue arises.

Supplier Quality Management. Food safety issues can often be due to a material or food ingredient issue. Monitoring all activities with suppliers by requiring and instituting best practices can help ensure supplier conformance.

Ensuring Ongoing Success and Profitability for F&B Manufacturers

All businesses operate to make money. Food and beverage manufacturers are no exception. But, when the products being made are consumables, the top priorities have to be safety, quality and food integrity. The food and beverage market is changing and evolving. Due to increasing customer demand, consumer preferences, sustainability initiatives and government regulations, manufacturers face more pressure to improve quality. These market changes have resulted in faster life cycles, shorter lead times, and the need for manufacturers to deliver more products faster than before, which puts pressure on the entire organization. Manufacturers in the food and beverage industry are under intense scrutiny to consistently produce safe food. Occasionally, issues occur that are out of a manufacturer’s control, but the producers of food and beverage products still have a responsibility to ensure that all precautions are in place to meet the safety needs of the end consumer. Efficient processes and systems to manage food safety not only meet the required compliance requirements but are a huge step in ensuring ongoing success and profitability.

magnifying glass

FDA’s Traceability Tech Challenges Goes Live

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
magnifying glass

Today FDA launched its latest initiative set forth as part of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint: The FDA New Era of Smarter Food Safety Low- or No-Cost Tech-Enabled Traceability Challenge. The agency is asking technology providers, entrepreneurs and innovators to come forward and develop traceability technology tools that are scalable and affordable for food operations of all sizes.

“Too many Americans suffer from foodborne illnesses every year. Making the food supply more digitally enabled and food more traceable will speed the response to outbreaks and deepen our understanding of what causes them and how to prevent them from happening again,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. in an agency release “One of the FDA’s highest priorities is protecting consumers from foodborne illnesses. We hope to find new, innovative ways to encourage firms of all sizes to voluntarily adopt tracing technologies that can help our nation modernize the way we work together to determine possible sources of foodborne illnesses as quickly as possible to keep Americans safe.”

Additional information about the challenge, which ends on July 30, can be found on the precisionFDA website.

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

An Appellation Hodgepodge

By Susanne Kuehne
No Comments
Susanne Kuehne, Decernis

In Italy’s Tuscany / Maremma region a fraud system with a broad scope that included clandestine meat, vegetable and fruits was set up by a company that claimed to sell these items from their own production. Included in this fraud was a significant amount of wine, some of which was violating health regulations. The products were either mislabeled by removing original labels, or they did not have any labeling and traceability. Due to their questionable origin and potential impact on human health, the products were seized by officials and scheduled for destruction.

Food fraud, Italy
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database, owned and operated by Decernis, a Food Safety Tech advertiser. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Resource

  1. Editorial Staff (April 29, 2021) “Macellazione clandestina e falsa “produzione propria” su frutta e verdura: imprenditore denunciato per frode”. Il Giunco il quotidiano della Maremma
FDA

FDA to Launch Technology Traceability Challenge

By Food Safety Tech Staff
1 Comment
FDA

The FDA is asking technology providers, entrepreneurs and innovators to come forward and develop traceability technology tools that are scalable and affordable for food operations of all sizes. The FDA New Era of Smarter Food Safety Low or No-Cost Tech-enabled Traceability Challenge will launch on June 1.

“Achieving end-to-end food traceability will involve everyone in the supply chain – from source to table. To achieve that level of participation, we need accessible tracing solutions for human and animal food companies of all sizes. That means that we must help ensure that even small companies can use and benefit from new tracing technologies,” said Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner for food policy and response at FDA, in an agency blog post. “Digitizing data at no or low cost through the use of creative financial models may allow the entire food system to get smarter together.”

The challenge will be administered by precisionFDA and overseen by the agency’s Office of Food Policy and Response. On June 1 at 8 am ET, the FDA’s pre-registration page will be updated with the submission information. The deadline for the challenge is July 30 at 5 pm ET.

Up to 12 winners will be selected and although there is no cash prize, the winners will have the chance to discuss their technology solution during an FDA public forum. “The food industry will gain new insights into how to solve traceability challenges, and the FDA will open the door to a conversation about finding new ways to overcome obstacles in the road to farm-to-fork traceability,” stated Yiannas.

The challenge is part of the goals outlined in the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint, which specifies tech-enabled traceability as a core element.

Food Safety Consortium

FDA Focusing on Fostering Food Safety Culture, Truly Bending the Curve of Foodborne Illness

By Maria Fontanazza
No Comments
Food Safety Consortium

The past year has tested and stressed the food system, putting tremendous pressure on worker safety and supply chain resilience. Despite the challenges, the industry continued to work day in and day out to meet the needs of Americans. “Consumers could still go then and now to their favorite supermarket or online platform and have access to thousands of food SKUs that are available,” said Frank Yiannas, FDA deputy commissioner for food policy and response. “We have the people in the food and agriculture sector to thank, and that’s you.”

Last week Yiannas gave his third Food Safety Consortium keynote address as deputy commissioner, reflecting on the past year and recognizing the progress and the work ahead. “I appreciate the larger conversation that the Consortium facilitates on food safety.” The Spring program of the Food Safety Consortium Virtual Conference Series takes place every Thursday in May.

Since the Fall of 2020, FDA has made advances in several areas, all of which take steps to advance the agency’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative. The goals set as part of the New Era aim to help the agency more efficiently and efficiently respond to outbreaks and contamination, and other food safety challenges. The intent is to go beyond creating food safety programs into fostering a culture of food safety and truly bending the curve of foodborne illness, said Yiannas. In September the FDA issued the proposed FSMA rule on food traceability with the intent on laying the groundwork for meaningful harmonization. Nearly 6200 comments were submitted to the docket on the Federal Register, and the agency held three public meetings about the proposed rule in the fall, hosting more than 1800 people virtually. Yiannas anticipates the final rule will be published in early 2022.

The pandemic has shown how enhanced traceability might have helped prevent supply chain disruptions during a public health emergency, and the FDA continues its efforts to establish greater transparency and traceability. It is supporting the development of low-cost traceability technology solutions that are accessible to companies of all sizes. The agency also continues to explore the role of predictive analytics via the use of artificial intelligence. It has moved its AI program involving imported seafood from proof of concept into the field. Based on the results, it is expected that AI will help the FDA better manage the ever-increasing amount of imported foods by targeting inspectional resources in a more informed manner.

Efforts to strengthen food safety culture within organizations include collaborating with partners, industry, academia and consumers to define food safety culture in a transparent way. The agency will also be developing and launching internal training modules for FDA inspectional staff to introduce them to important concepts such as behavioral sciences. “We want to make food safety culture part of the dialogue and part of the social norm,” said Yiannas.

The agency will also be proposing new agricultural water requirements, a move as a result of feedback that FDA received in response to the Produce Rule. “Produce safety is one of the last frontiers because of product being grown outside,” said Yiannas.

In addition, FDA continues to review and evaluate feedback from proposed lab accreditation rule. It is expected that the FDA will issue the final rule early next year.

“We just lived through a historic year and historic challenges. These have been the most difficult of times in my profession. We have been able to move forward nonetheless,” said Yiannas. “We’re going to get through this stronger and more resilient than ever.”

FDA

FDA Begins Phase Two of Artificial Intelligence Imported Seafood Pilot Program

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
FDA

FDA is beginning phase two of its Artificial Intelligence Imported Seafood Pilot Program. The program, which is expected to run from February 1 through July 31, intends to improve FDA’s response in quickly and efficiently identifying potentially harmful imported seafood products.

Phase one of the pilot looked at using machine learning to find violative seafood shipments. “The pilot program will help the agency not only gain valuable experience with new powerful AI-enabled technology but also add to the tools used to determine compliance with regulatory requirements and speed up detection of public health threats,” FDA stated in a news release. “Following completion of the pilot, FDA will communicate on our findings to promote transparency and facilitate dialogue on how new and emerging technologies can be harnessed to solve complex public health challenges.”

The pilot program is part of the agency’s efforts that fall under the New Era of Smarter Food Safety.

2021 Food Safety Consortium

2021 Food Safety Consortium Virtual Conference Spring and Fall Series Announced

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
2021 Food Safety Consortium

Over the past 9 years, the Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo has built a reputation for delivering perspectives and insights from the most knowledgeable and influential experts in food safety. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s event was converted from an in-person event into a 14-week series of virtual themed-episodes during the fall. Continuing the momentum from 2020, the 2021 Food Safety Consortium Virtual Conference Series will take place as a four-week Spring and five-week Fall program. Both the Spring and Fall programs will feature critical thinking topics that are for industry veterans and knowledgeable newcomers.

“As you know, the online experience is very different than in-person, so last year we deconstructed our in-person program and re-engineered it for virtual. Instead of having a virtual conference for three straight days, we set up our program in short 2.5-hour themed episodes that ran every Thursday in the fall. We received great feedback from attendees, speakers and sponsors. I think we were one of the few conferences that successfully pulled off the pivot to virtual,” says Rick Biros, president of Innovative Publishing and director of the Food Safety Consortium.

Building on the strong success of the 2020 Food Safety Virtual Conference Series, the 2021 Consortium will be presented into two seasonal programs. “This will allow us to continue the conversation throughout the year, while also taking into consideration the busy lives of food safety professionals,” Biros adds.

Food Safety Tech is the media sponsor and will feature exclusive content from the event.

Read the Top 10 from the 2020 Food Safety Consortium Virtual Conference Series

The Spring Program will run every Thursday in May, with each episode starting at 12 pm ET. The weekly episodes will tackle a range of critical topics in foods safety, including FSMA and traceability, food protection strategies, COVID-19’s lasting impact on the food industry by segment, audits and supply chain management. Frank Yiannas, FDA deputy commissioner for food policy and response, is the confirmed keynote speaker for Thursday, May 6.

The Fall Program will run every Thursday beginning on October 7 at 12 pm ET through November 4. Episode topics include food safety hazards (emerging threats and new technologies), food defense strategies, an FDA update, and personal development, training and mentorship.

Registration for the 2021 Food Safety Consortium Spring and Fall Virtual Conference Series is open now.

TechTalk Sponsorship

Companies that are interested in sponsoring a 10-minute technical presentation during the series can contact Sales Director RJ Palermo for more details.

About Food Safety Tech

Food Safety Tech is a digital media community for food industry professionals interested in food safety and quality. We inform, educate and connect food manufacturers and processors, retail & food service, food laboratories, growers, suppliers and vendors, and regulatory agencies with original, in-depth features and reports, curated industry news and user-contributed content, and live and virtual events that offer knowledge, perspectives, strategies and resources to facilitate an environment that fosters safer food for consumers.

Since 2012, Food Safety Tech audiences have learned to respect and expect our high-quality content—via FoodSafetyTech.com, our weekly newsletter and by attending our educational programs. Food Safety Tech keeps professionals current with the latest information about technology, best practices and regulations, and how innovative solutions and approaches can be leveraged to further advance food safety across the globe.

About the Food Safety Consortium Conference

The Food Safety Consortium is an educational and networking event for Food Protection that has food safety, food integrity and food defense as the foundation of the educational content of the program. With a unique focus on science, technology and compliance, the “Consortium” enables attendees to engage in sessions that are critical for advancing careers and organizations alike. Over the past 9 years the Food Safety Consortium has built a reputation for delivering the most knowledgeable and influential perspectives in food safety. The speaker line-up has driven key food safety decision-makers to the event (both in-person and virtually)—facilitating an environment for vendors, suppliers, food industry professionals, and consultants to network and build long-lasting business relationships.

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Food Safety Consortium was converted to a virtual conference series that featured specific topics in a weekly episode series. The 2021 Food Safety Consortium Virtual Conference Series will feature a Spring and Fall program, running in May and October, respectively.

FDA

In a Year of ‘Unprecedented Challenges’ FDA’s Food Program Achieved So Much

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
FDA

Earlier this week FSMA celebrated its 10-year anniversary, and FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas reflected on the progress and accomplishments as a result of this legislation, and the path forward. As we round out the first week of 2021, Yiannas is looking back at the achievements of 2020 in the face of the historic COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m struck by how tirelessly our team members have worked together to help ensure the continuity of the food supply chain and to help keep food workers and consumers alike safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Yiannas on the FDA Voices blog. “Their commitment has not wavered in a time when we’re all dealing personally with the impact of the pandemic on our families, schooling our children from home and taking care of elderly parents.”

  • Response to COVID-19. FDA addressed the concern of virus transmission, assuring consumers that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted via food or its packaging. The agency also worked with CDC and OSHA on resources to help promote worker safety and supply chain continuity.
  • Release of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint
  • Release of the 2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan with a focus on prevention, response and research gaps
  • Artificial Intelligence pilot program to strengthen the screening of imported foods
  • Proposed Food Traceability Rule issued in an effort to create more recordkeeping requirements for specific foods
  • New protocol for developing and registering antimicrobial treatments for pre-harvest agricultural water
  • Enhanced foodborne outbreak investigation processes and established the outbreak investigation table (via the CORE Network) to disseminate information about an outbreak right when the agency begins its investigation