The Food Safety Modernization Act became law in 2011. The Act was developed to help with the detection of food-borne illnesses, like the cantaloupe listeria outbreak in September 2011, which lead to 18 deaths and 100 illnesses across 20 states—all stemming from one farm in Colorado.
At about the same time, Andrew Williamson Fresh Produce recalled its organic grape tomatoes after one package tested positive for salmonella.
The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) is a voluntary, industry-wide effort that was launched in 2007 to support more effective and efficient track and trace method into the produce supply chain. Sponsored by the Produce Marketing Association, United Fresh Association, and Canadian Produce Marketing Association, the initiative has been endorsed by leading retailers and food services distributors across North America. The goal at the outset was to adopt electronic traceability methods for every case of produce by 2012. The program has been gaining momentum, but is still working hard to get produce operations to integrate barcoding and food label printers into their businesses.
Six billion cases of fresh produce are handled every year in the U.S. Contamination does occur, but the PTI is hoping that the standardized approach they propose will provide a more efficient, targeted food recall—to minimize the health risk to the consumers and the impact on the food companies involved.
When contamination occurs, do you have a system in place to quickly track and trace your produce?
Barcoding is critical to building and maintaining an electronic track and trace system for fresh produce. The process of following a manual paper trail between buyers and sellers is too cumbersome, particularly when lives can be at stake. The standardized system of coding the cases provides a more accurate, efficient, and consistent way to track produce shipments. By following the numbering protocols established by the global standards (GS1), every handler along the supply chain makes its mark on the produce. By instituting barcode software, scanners, and food label printers, you can easily comply with the PTI action.
PTI has already accomplished six of its seven milestones:
1. Obtain a GS1 company prefix, which provides unique identification for products from a particular company. The company prefix becomes part of the 14-digit Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN). When that produce is repacked or the case configuration or makeup of the product is changed, the company making the alteration produces a new barcode with its own GSI company prefix, effectively becoming the next “brand owner” in the supply chain.
2. GTINs are assigned to the case configurations. This standard numbering system is intended to streamline traceability,
3. Provide GTIN information to buyers. Once the GTIN is scanned by a receiver, the seller needs to communicate the GTINs that are being shipped to the buyers. With that information, the buyer scans the barcode when the shipment is received to make sure it matches with the data they have electronically stored.
4. Show human-readable information on cases. In addition to the barcodes, packers must also identify the GTIN and the lot or batch number in human-readable form below the barcode.
5. Encode information in a barcode. The 14-digit GTIN and the lot or batch number are encoded in the barcode that appears on each case.
6. Read and store information on inbound cases. Once a case leaves a facility, the information on that case goes with it, so companies must scan the barcode on each case and store the data electronically in their systems.
The one remaining milestone is “Read and store information on outbound cases.” According to a survey by the PTI Leadership Council last year, 82 percent of the group’s retail members, 71 percent of wholesalers and broker members, and 70 percent of food service members expected to meet the 2012 deadline for this final milestone.
The right food label printers are going to be critical to stepping up and becoming a part of the produce traceability solution. At IntelliTech International, we’ve developed our line of IntelliBar printers to give you a range of barcode label printers. Contact us to learn more about choosing the printer that will keep your track and trace system in step with the industry. To learn more, download our ebook.