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FDA Announces Final Food Traceability Rule

Specialty Food Association

The FDA announced Tuesday the finalization of a rule to trace contaminated food more effectively through the supply chain, whether sourced in the U.S. or abroad. The intention is that the FDA will be able to more rapidly and effectively identify the origin and route of travel of certain contaminated foods to prevent or mitigate foodborne illness outbreaks, address the threats to the health of consumers, and minimize broad advisories or recalls that affect uncontaminated food products.

The final rule establishes additional traceability recordkeeping requirements for those that manufacture, process, pack, or hold certain foods, including fresh leafy greens, nut butters, and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. Foods subject to the final rule requirements appear on the Food Traceability List.

“This rule lays the foundation for even greater end-to-end food traceability across the food system that we’re working on as part of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiatives,” said Frank Yiannas, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for food policy and response, in a statement. “This standardized, data-driven approach to traceability recordkeeping helps create a harmonized, universal language of food traceability that will help pave the way for the industry to adopt and leverage more digital, interoperable, and tech-enabled traceability systems both in the near term and the future.” 

Through an initial proposed ruling in 2020 that faced a public comment period where food producers and stakeholders weighed in, the agency has been able to modify the final rule so that it better aligns with current industry approaches to food traceability and harmonizes points in the supply chain where records must be maintained.

Key features of the final rule include:

• Records that are required at key points in the supply chain.

• The inclusion of essential information to help regulators understand a business’ traceability program.

• Record maintenance compliance guidelines.

The ruling progresses the agency’s commitment to better protect the public by ensuring a safe and wholesome food supply,

Related: USDA Highlights Investments, Goals at UN Conference; SFA Regulatory Webinar: Using Third Party Certifications, Logos On Food Labels