The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) has released a report commissioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that evaluates food traceability trends based on 90 submissions from teams that participated in FDA’s 2021 Low- or No-Cost Tech-Enabled Traceability Challenge.

Because IFT’s Global Food Traceability Center has played a central role in discussions of traceability for over a decade, FDA determined that IFT was ideally positioned to develop this independent report analyzing recent technological hardware, software and data analytics developments for traceability end users.

This report is intended to contribute to ongoing industry discussions about the role of technology in food traceability and provide high-level recommendations to key stakeholders on advancing the tech-enabled traceability landscape. Specifically, IFT seeks to answer how improvements in interoperability, support and infrastructure, usability and cost could provide opportunities for future traceability advances.

IFT determined that the knowledge, means and technology have been developed to make end-to-end tech-enabled traceability a reality, but it will not be realized without collective action and continued innovation among the diverse food industry community. Furthermore, developing low-cost traceability solutions that are intuitive to all levels of experience, available in multiple languages, promote the use of data standards and data communication protocols, and consider applicability to specific supply chain segments or commodities are critical for advancing traceability.

This report is an important resource for industry stakeholders to advance food traceability concepts, as outlined under the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint, the FDA says. It will use the report recommendations to educate stakeholders on food traceability considerations and continue to foster important conversations among food supply chain constituents on the importance of tech-enabled traceability.