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Industry collaboration the focus at recent PTI leadership council

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2018-08-20  Views: 14
Core Tip: The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) Leadership Council convened recently to reinvigorate industry discussions as current events have put a new spotlight on traceability, including recent foodborne illness outbreak investigations.
 The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) Leadership Council convened recently to reinvigorate industry discussions as current events have put a new spotlight on traceability, including recent foodborne illness outbreak investigations, release in Canada of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and projects exploring the benefits of blockchain for the food supply chain.
The PTI Leadership Council’s discussions included the importance of ongoing industry collaboration on traceability, and being able to track produce’s “last mile”, said PTI Leadership Council Co-Chair Doug Grant of The Oppenheimer Group. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) romaine outbreak investigation, combined with an increasing number of fresh produce recalls, highlight the need to be able to trace our products through to the retail level. And having more buyers step up and implement PTI at distribution center and store level will also send a strong vote of confidence to our supply chain about the need for and value of traceability.” 
FDA Deputy Commissioner Stephen Ostroff has stated publicly on several occasions that PTI labels would have improved that agency’s traceback investigation. “I’d like to think that [PTI labels] would’ve made the tracebacks that we were engaged in not only considerably easier but also considerably faster,” Ostroff told Valley Public Radio.
Other topics discussed by the council included a Walmart-led effort with IBM and other industry members working to harness blockchain digital ledger technology to provide a farm-to-store view of the food supply chain. A pilot test traced fresh-cut mangoes back to their source in seconds rather than days. The Walmart blockchain project also leverages global GS1 Standards – the same foundation PTI labeling requirements are based on for case-level traceability. 
Industry progress to implement the voluntary PTI has slowed as the supply chain awaits implementing regulations for both the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act and, prior to their recent release, Canada’s Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. Recognizing that FDA’s limited authority means industry must take the lead in meeting the demands of the marketplace, PMA and United Fresh have both urged FDA to leverage PTI as it builds traceability regulations.
PTI’s four founding organizations continue to collaborate on PTI traceability best practices, and on blockchain in general. United Fresh Produce Association’s (United Fresh) Jennifer McEntire, Ph.D., is chairing the Leafy Greens Task Force traceability work group; Produce Marketing Association’s Ed Treacy and Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s Jeff Hall and Jane Proctor are also on the work group. McEntire, Treacy and GS1 US’s Angela Fernandez sit on the Global Food Traceability Center’s advisory board.
According to PMA, in addition to providing enhanced traceability capability, companies implementing PTI also report a range of other business benefits, including money-saving efficiencies in inventory management, record-keeping and other business operations. “PTI can be a smart investment,” said Grant.
The Leadership Council, representing 33 industry stakeholders, gathered on June 27 during United Fresh’s annual convention in Chicago, Illinois.
In addition, council members welcomed Julie McGill, FoodLogiQ director of implementation, as the PTI Technology Working Group’s new co-chair, and thanked outgoing co-chair Andy Kennedy for his service. Kennedy was named interim director of the Global Food Traceability Center in March. He co-founded and is an advisor and board member of FoodLogiQ, a traceability solution provider.
“While we very much appreciate Andy’s contributions to this group, having him at the Global Food Traceability Center is best for industry traceability’s big picture,” said Grant.
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