Food Safety Modernization Act Update

On January 4, 2011 President Obama signed into law the FSMA (FSMA) instructing the FDA to, among other things, define how to track food-borne illness back to its source. The deadline for this plan was 2 years, which would make it due the end of 2012. At that time, the FDA is required to provide farmers and food manufacturers with the guidelines they will need to follow to comply with the government’s traceability mandate.

An estimated 76 million people contract a food-borne illnesses in the US each year. The new tracking requirements will most likely require that farmers and food packers/processors track individual cases and lots, and have the information available for FDA inspectors in case of contamination. The technology to accomplish this detail of traceability has been available for over 20 years, but the food industry has been one of the slowest to adopt these computerized tracking systems.

What will a food traceability look like?

At its simplest, a small farmer could track lots on a spreadsheet. At its most complex, automated systems with integrated 4 Ways Barcode Solutions Benefits Profitability and conveyor systems with omni-directional barcode scanners integrated to an ERP system would keep track of not only lots and cartons, but production and accounting information.

What most SMBs need is a food traceability software that uses barcode printers to create labels for cartons, touch screens to select the attributes of the items being boxed or re-boxed and commingled, and mobile barcode terminals to track and verify shipping information. This means complete traceability as well as production and inventory information so the farmer, packer and processor can better manage the business.

The federal standards are as yet unknown, but the large supermarket chains such as Kroger and Walmart are requiring labeling and traceability this year. Chances are the federal regulations will follow similar guidelines and those who invest now will be compliant at the end of the year when the FDA finally announces their plan.


image credit: rachelulgado