FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 9, 2011

PTI update: Pilot projects under way, Food Safety Modernization Act dominates FAQs

The following is an update from the PTI Leadership Council on recent Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) activities/ Highlights include a call for volunteers to participate in pilot projects now getting under way, the release of new best practices and several upcoming educational events.

Leadership Update

  • Since being formed in October 2010 to provide transparency and to help address industry implementation challenges, the 37-member Leadership Council has met bimonthly.
  • Highlights of the December 2010 meeting:
    • The group welcomed an international member and agreed on governance guidelines.
    • A 10-member Executive Committee was elected to manage work in between council meetings, including previewing working group proposals and making recommendations to the Leadership Council.
    • Council members agreed that the PTI’s focus should remain unchanged; achieving traceability rather than expanding it to include supply chain efficiencies.
  • Highlights of February 2011 meetings:
    • Following a special meeting the council considered but ultimately rejected a proposal for an interim path for Global Trade Item Number¨ (GTIN¨) implementation for short-term use by those suppliers experiencing difficulty implementing GTINs. (See the related communication on this topic.)
    • The council planned a survey to benchmark their companies’ implementation status.
    • In response to industry feedback, the Leadership Council approved revising two best practices:
      • The PTI’s hybrid pallet labeling specification best practice was revised to orient the Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) in a GS1-128 bar code from vertical to horizontal, as some international scanner technology cannot read vertical barcodes.
      • The case labeling best practice was revised to relax its recommendations for lot numbering, to accommodate multi-day field pack operations.

Working Group Updates

  • The Initiative’s working groups are now staffed with industry volunteers and Leadership Council company representatives, and their work is under way.
  • Implementation Working Group (53 industry members):
    • Revised hybrid pallet labeling and case labeling best practices (see above).
    • Will develop best practices this year for: conducting a recall; creation of a hybrid pallet label; receiving with the hybrid pallet label; data synchronization maintenance between trading partners, after initial set-up; and advance ship notices.
    • Overseeing pilot projects that will get underway this spring, including:
      • Identifying pilot goals, which are: to identify and document best practices, implementation costs and benefits, and time required to execute a complete trace.
      • Establishing metrics to be studied, including costs for supplies and incremental labor, benefits and time requirements.
      • Soliciting supply chain-wide and commodity-representative participants, which already include apples, bananas, berries, citrus, tomato/celery/radish/pepper, leafy greens, melons, potatoes/onions, sweet corn and table grapes.
      • Call for volunteers: The PTI is seeking industry volunteers to participate in pilot projects. U.S. and non-U.S. companies from across the supply chain are invited to participate. For more information, contact PMA’s Ed Treacy by email at etreacy@pma.com, or by telephone at +1 (302)-738-7100 ext. 3018.
  • Master Data Working Group (26 industry members):
    • This group is reviewing the substitution process to ensure current practices are covered, and to provide guidance toward future process using GTINs.
    • Planning to review master data attributes needed to support business practices.
    • Reviewing the data synchronization process and needs of the produce industry, to develop guidelines to help the industry as it defines how master data is shared.
  • Technology Working Group (31 solution provider members):
    • This group is updating the case labeling best practice to incorporate the basic PTI case label with the voice-pick solution approved by the Leadership Council in October 2010. The group added technical specifications identifying the GS1-128 barcode as a best practice.
    • The group also added technical specifications to the revised hybrid pallet label specification best practice.
    • Next the group will develop a plan to test the recommended bar codes.
    • The group plans to develop best practices in other areas, including advance ship notices and data synchronization.
    • The group will also develop a voice-pick code calculator to be posted on the website for industry use.
  • Communications Working Group (five industry members, two retail seats vacant):
    • Currently creating communications vehicles/activities to increase information flow with industry.
    • New to the PTI website: “Frontera Produce: Traceability from Field to Store.” This white paper outlines the path Frontera Produce Ltd., took to implement traceability. It shares lessons learned and the varied benefits the company realized in adopting the PTI. For example: Frontera recently was able to limit the scope of a recall to just 12 percent of total cases.
  • Association Interest Group (17 industry members): This group provides input and perspective of various commodity industries to the Leadership Council.

Latest PTI FAQs

Staff of the administering organizations report that the most frequently-asked questions about the PTI in recent weeks have been about the recently-enacted Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and its traceability and recordkeeping components. Staff is noting that:

  • The U.S. law speaks in generalities on the subject. It’s now up to the Food and Drug Administration to develop regulations to implement FSMA, including conducting the required pilot projects and research.
  • It will be many months to years before implementing regulations are in place. In the interim, industry will have opportunities to provide feedback during that rulemaking process, including showing FDA a working traceability system.
  • The PTI solution is based on global standards that have been proven to work throughout other supply chains.
  • Meanwhile, the costs Ð human and economic Ð of a foodborne illness outbreak are too high, and consumer confidence in the safety of fresh produce has already suffered too much, to wait to implement industry-wide changes.

Upcoming Educational Events

The PTI’s administering organizations are planning the following PTI educational events:

Have questions or comments about the PTI? For a list of contacts, visit the PTI website contact page.

---

About the Canadian Produce Marketing Association
Based in Ottawa, Ontario, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) is a not-for-profit organization representing over 770 Canadian and International member companies that are active in the marketing of fresh fruits and vegetables in Canada from the farm gate to the dinner plate. CPMA members represent all segments of the fresh produce industry. CPMA's vision is to enable and lead the produce industry by enhancing the market and facilitating trade of fresh fruits and vegetables for its members.  For more information about CPMA, please visit www.cpma.ca. 

About GS1 US
GS1 US, a member of GS1, is an information standards organization that brings industry communities together to solve supply-chain problems through the adoption and implementation of GS1 standards. More than 200,000 businesses in 25 industries rely on GS1 US for trading-partner collaboration and for maximizing the cost effectiveness, speed, visibility, security and sustainability of their business processes. They achieve these benefits through solutions based on GS1 global unique numbering and identification systems, bar codes, Electronic Product Code-based RFID, data synchronization, and electronic information exchange. GS1 US also manages the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC). www.GS1US.org

About Produce Marketing Association (PMA)
Produce Marketing Association is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing business solutions that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption. For more information, visit www.pma.com.

About United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh)
Founded in 1904, the United Fresh Produce Association serves companies at the forefront of the global fresh and fresh-cut produce industry, including growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers and allied associations. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and Western Regional office in Salinas, Calif., United Fresh and its members work year-round to make a difference for the produce industry by driving policies that increase consumption of fresh produce, shaping critical legislative and regulatory action, providing scientific and technical leadership in food safety, quality assurance, nutrition and health, and developing educational programs and business opportunities to assist member companies in growing successful businesses. For more information, visit www.unitedfresh.org.