At a discussion-based forum of 50 leaders in the area of food product tracing, participants recognized the need for the development of a common vision for a simple, low cost and implementable traceability approach. A key theme that emerged during the day's discussions revolved around not reinventing the wheel: there are many efforts underway, including numerous pilots, and these efforts should be collaborative. The group sought more information on current initiatives and felt that learning from the experiences of others could help form a realistic vision for the future.
Although any forthcoming actions from the US FDA are unknown, industry fully expects that improvements in product tracing will be necessary, and expects that industry itself (through the “demand” side) will enact requirements that may surpass regulatory mandates. A chief concern is uniform adoption, which will require outreach to and support from the global community as well as small firms that may lack the resources and education to keep up.
Ultimately, an approach that is global, economical, scalable, and inclusive of firms of all sizes who handles all types of food products, will have the greatest likelihood of success. While the ability to rapidly link products across the supply chain serves as an ideal goal, there are still substantial concerns to be addressed, particularly regarding confidentiality of data, and who will have access to what information under what circumstances, which was woven into virtually every discussion topic. Who will spearhead the development of the visions is a question, but there was general agreement that a joint partnership which includes all stakeholders is a necessity.