Newark, DE—While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) develops its own produce tracing program as is now required by law, a program already established by several produce industry groups, the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), is forging ahead with its own “track-and-trace” system.

The passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 (FSMA) requires FDA to ultimately develop a produce traceability program. It has been conducting pilots and analyzing other similar programs throughout the first half of 2011, and is required to report to congress with a plan within 18 months of FSMA’s enactment. In the meantime, the administrators of the PTI, which includes the Produce Marketing Association, the United Fresh Produce Association and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, are emphasizing the need to have a working system in place.

“It will be many months to years before implementing regulations [of FSMA] are in place. In the interim, industry will have opportunities to provide feedback during that rulemaking process, including showing FDA a working traceability system,” read a statement released by the PTI groups. The PTI’s goal is to have a working system in place by the end of 2012. Those involved with the program are proceeding as planned because, states the PTI website, “the human and economic costs—and the related legal liability—of another significant food-borne illness outbreak are more than they want to bear.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, June 2011 (online 4/19/11)