GS1 US Enhancing Food Safety and Product Traceability through GS1 Standards
GS1 US is making it possible for companies to move their business forward by driving industry initiatives around the adoption and implementation of GS1 Standards—the global language of business—to enhance food safety and product traceability, ultimately improving efficiency and supply chain operations in the produce industry. By enabling the tracking of products through the entire supply chain, GS1 Standards provide companies the opportunity to streamline their processes.
GS1 US is one of the four administering organizations of the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) along with the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association. PTI is focused on electronic case-level traceability of produce and is designed to help the industry maximize the effectiveness of current traceback procedures, while developing a standardized industry approach to enhance the speed and efficiency of traceability systems for the future.
PTI guidance incorporates the use of GS1 Standards for product identification and exchange of information to efficiently track products and establish electronic recordkeeping of product data from farm-to-store, or farm-to-restaurant. PTI is the most visible example of a proactive, industry-led effort guiding stakeholders representing every part of the produce supply chain.
Angela Fernandez, GS1 US’s Vice President of Retail/CPG, tells AndNowUKnow about the direction she sees food safety heading and the significance behind using global standards. According to Fernandez, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working with the fresh foods industry to develop and comply with proposed and existing food safety rules outlined in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). “Currently, the FDA is preparing proposed traceability rules focused on linkages between internal and external traceability processes. The most efficient way to trace back products in the event of a foodborne illness outbreak is to have standardized product identification to support the speed and accuracy of the product tracing process as opposed to mapping each organization’s product number to one another through business transactions. PTI encourages produce companies to adopt the use of GS1 Standards and utilize the best practice industry participants developed to minimize the learning curve for small to medium size companies.”
Currently, PTI has seen a lot of progress in the last couple of years. Fernandez adds, “Right now, PTI is focused on buyer implementations. We’re starting to different approaches for utilizing this standardized case-level product information for warehouse management and store systems.”
PTI is just one step toward whole-chain traceability in the food industry. Fernandez suggests we may see more progress late next year, as more major grocers are beginning to request PTI adoption from their produce suppliers.