Enhanced Produce Traceability Standards Ahead – Are You Ready?

New Produce Traceability Labeling Requirements From The FDA

On those quaint drives through the countryside in many of our heavy produce-growing states, it can be almost tranquil to see fields planted full of a wide range of delicious fruits, vegetables and produce. Greenery extends for acres and acres, and there’s something very comforting about the “field-to-table” imagery of the good earth providing for our nutrition needs.

But in recent years, there have been several incidents in which contamination of produce and other agricultural products has led to sickness and disruption of the food supply chain. At those instances, the pastoral imagery is quickly replaced with an uneasy uncertainty about where some of our agricultural products really come from. We’ve become comfortable with codes and numbers on many cans, cartons, and other food packages that provide this kind of information – but what of that head of lettuce, or bunch of bananas?

For just that reason, the FDA is in the process of refining and strengthening its rules about food safety and handling, including an increase in the ability to track produce products from source of original to retail point of purchase. Through the pending Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), it plans to improve the speed and efficiency of reaction when circumstances dictate action. The exact provisions are yet to be finalized, but rules will almost certainly call for a standardization of the information collected and reported by various tracing systems.

Knowing the Supply Chain Backwards and Forwards

In the FDA’s own words, “a product tracing system involves documenting the production and distribution chain of products so that in the case of an outbreak of evidence of contaminated food, a product can be traced back to a common source or forward through distribution channels.”

The FSMA was signed into law in 2011, but its specific details are still being refined and adjusted based on comments and learnings from pilot programs established in accordance with its provisions. But some of the largest grocery and other retailers across the country are moving quickly to request that suppliers take steps to align their processes and packaging protocols with the kind of accountability the ultimate rules will likely require.

Better Information Leads to Better Produce.

These companies have already seen the benefits of being proactive, even before the new requirements are implemented. These tracing mechanisms aid in product accountability across the board, and can be used to help ensure a consistent level of quality and freshness in what they offer their customers.

If you are in the food or produce industry, how much do you know about these potential major changes to your business operations, and how well equipped are you to deal with the changes they will soon require? By being ahead of the game, you will not only minimize disruption to your business, but also give yourself greater opportunity to thrive in the new environment simply because you are more ready to deal with it.

Superior Business Solutions can provide excellent traceability solutions that will make compliance simple. Our experience, combined with sophisticated printing and labeling technologies, will help you meet current regulations and prepare for new standards to minimize “hiccups” as they come on line. The efficiency of your operation will likely get a boost in the process.

We’re ready to help you do just that. Give us a call to discuss your situation, and we can help steer you through the coming traceability mandates. We’ll help you turn an obligation into an opportunity that will only help your business grow.

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