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Institute of Food Technologists leads pilot food traceability programs

The Institute of Food Technologists will lead two pilot programs for the US Food and Drug Administration designed to test and study various food product tracing systems. The purpose of the pilots is to identify methods to rapidly and effectively trace food products throughout the supply chain, so that products can be quickly identified and removed from the marketplace during a food-related outbreak to minimize the number of consumers affected.

Under an existing contract with FDA, IFT will conduct both the processed food and produce pilots required by the Food Safety Modernization Act, involving multiple stakeholders throughout the food system. IFT will focus on data use and how data collection processes impact the speed and accuracy of traceback during an outbreak.

In the first phase of the pilot programs, systems currently used for identifying, capturing, storing and sharing data will be tweaked to facilitate data analysis. The second stage will use supply chain data to determine if interfaces between existing systems are sufficient enough to trace a product forward and back along the supply chain, as well as will evaluate the costs and benefits to companies and society.

"Our work for FDA over the past 12 years lays a solid foundation for us to conduct these pilots," said IFT Executive Vice President Barbara Byrd Keenan. "Since 2008 IFT has been recognized as a resource for product tracing information, linking the food science community with technology providers, supply chain professionals, public health officials, and others with a shared commitment to product tracing and food safety."

Companies interested in participating or learning more about the study may contact Caitlin Hickey at or +1.202.330.4985.

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