Two schemes, one private and the other state sponsored, look to improve food safety and security using traceability including ‘on pack’ or consignment smart packaging features. In the USA a food supply chain specialist ReposiTrak is setting up a consortium with the aim of developing an open, low-cost approach to food tracing technology. Meanwhile China has implemented mandatory traceability requirements for all foods transported via cold chain, which it believes could be the cause of Covid 19 transmission.
The US company is inviting a group of food retailers, wholesalers and suppliers to join the Food Traceability Leadership Consortium (FTLC) in response to the FDA’s proposals for ‘farm-to-table’ traceability across the US food industry. The agency held three public meetings on the proposed rule, and invited written comments until February 2021.
FTLC aim is to “create and execute a collaborative plan to deploy food shipment track and trace technology and prepare the industry for any potential changes” to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which mandated the traceability requirements. The proposed FSMA regulations require capturing batch/lot and similar shipment level data for a wide variety of fresh produce, seafood and dairy products as they move through the supply chain.
In China the Beijing Market Supervision Administration will be the first to pilot traceability requirements across all foodstuffs entering via the cold chain, having previously imposed these rules on meat and seafood imports and recently expanded this to all frozen foods. Now all products stored at 0°C or below will be subject to the requirements including rice, noodles, dairy, vegetables, fruits and juices.
The Beijing Cold Chain Food Traceability Platform is used from the point of product registration to the supermarket/consumer. Foreign imports will have to be registered and comply with certain inspection and traceability data, etc. before they are sold in the market. Unique QR codes for individual food products will be displayed at retail outlets, where consumers can check traceability information via their smart phones after downloading the Platform applet via WeChat or AliPay.
Several international trading companies have protested about these rules as there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted via frozen foods, despite China’s claims to the contrary.