• Open Access

Proceedings of the November 2011 Traceability Research Summit

This report is the third in a series on Traceability Summits sponsored by IFT beginning in July 2011



 Fifty thought leaders in the area of food traceability met for a 3rd time to discuss methodologies and finalize the principles that define their vision for traceability. Participants in the summit included representatives from industry, trade associations, government, academia, consumer groups, and more.

One main focus of this summit included a discussion on the current regulations and voluntary initiatives in place regarding traceability. Overall, it was recognized that the recommendations from this summit group would be more specific and stringent in comparison to these current regulations and initiatives. The participants sought to be leaders in the traceability arena, with their recommendations leading the industry to optimal traceability systems and methods.

Participants agreed on many principles for their vision of traceability, emphasizing the importance of access to traceability data. They discussed having industry be asked for “basic” tracing data prior to the need for a large-scale investigation, having standards for sharing data, and having the data in electronic form. Participants foresaw the importance of capturing data electronically in the future, although they recognized that many firms do not currently do this. The group also saw a need for a transition period to implement changes, and to provide implementation training and resource aid to small businesses.

Summit participants discussed specific definitions and examples for key data elements and critical tracking events that could be used by industry to capture tracing data at specific points within the supply chain. Overall, participants refined the goals of the summit group and started to identify specific ways to achieve those goals.