The FDA New Era of Smarter Food Safety Low- or No-Cost Tech-Enabled Traceability Challenge advances a goal set in the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint, released in July 2020, to encourage development of creative financial models for low- to no-cost traceability solutions that would enable food producers of all sizes to participate in a scalable, cost-effective way. Tech-enabled traceability is one of the foundational core elements of the New Era initiative. However, affordability can be a barrier to the adoption of tech-enabled traceability systems, especially for smaller companies. 

“Too many Americans suffer from foodborne illnesses every year. Making the food supply more digitally enabled and food more traceable will speed the response to outbreaks and deepen our understanding of what causes them and how to prevent them from happening again,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “One of the FDA’s highest priorities is protecting consumers from foodborne illnesses. We hope to find new, innovative ways to encourage firms of all sizes to voluntarily adopt tracing technologies that can help our nation modernize the way we work together to determine possible sources of foodborne illnesses as quickly as possible to keep Americans safe.”

Through this challenge, the agency is asking food technology solution providers, public health advocates, entrepreneurs and innovators across the human and animal food supply chain to present food traceability solutions that utilize economic models that are affordable, with costs that are proportional to the benefits received and can scale to encourage widespread adoption.   

The challenge invites submissions for tech-enabled solutions that address the traceability needs and challenges unique to one or more segments of the human and animal food supply chain:  

  • primary producers (such as entities involved in farming and fishing);
  • importers;
  • manufacturers/processors;
  • distributors (such as wholesalers, distribution centers and re-packers); and
  • retailers and foodservice (such as retail food establishments and restaurants). 

Participants may offer solutions based on new or innovative models that are affordable for smaller enterprises. However, the solutions can also be based on existing or new scalable and cost-effective hardware, software or data analytics platforms.

The FDA will accept submissions from June 1 through July 30 and plans to announce up to 12 winners at the end of the challenge. A panel of judges from the federal government with experience in the fields of technology, public health or the food industry will select the winners based on how well solutions meet specific traceability challenges and demonstrate innovation, usability, affordability, scalability and interoperability.

No cash prizes will be awarded, but the winners will have the opportunity to present their work publicly in a webinar planned for September and their videos will be posted for public viewing.

To register and for more information: registration page