FDA seeks innovative food traceability tools and opens a dialogue on advancing food safety with technology

May 20, 2021

By: Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative in April 2019 and then released the blueprint in July 2020 outlining our goals, we put both in the context of doing our work differently, leveraging new and emerging technologies and approaches to create a safer and more digital, traceable food system.  We are taking two steps forward to do just that, working differently to enhance food traceability and support the use of technology to strengthen the food safety system.

The Traceability Challenge

On June 1, we will launch The FDA New Era of Smarter Food Safety Low or No-Cost Tech-enabled Traceability Challenge, asking stakeholders, including technology providers, entrepreneurs, and innovators, to develop traceability tools that can be implemented in a scalable, cost-effective way for food operations of all sizes.

The Low or No-Cost Tech-enabled Traceability Challenge is being overseen by the FDA’s Office of Food Policy and Response and administered by precisionFDA, which convenes community challenges and app-a-thons that galvanize dialogue and scientific discovery around technologies.

The challenge will invite submissions for tech-enabled solutions that address traceability needs and challenges faced by primary producers (such as entities involved in farming, fishing, and animal agriculture), importers, manufacturers and processors, distributors, and retailers and foodservice. There is a pre-registration web page that will be updated on June 1 at 8 a.m. ET with all information needed to participate in the challenge. The submission window closes on July 30 at 5 p.m. ET. Up to 12 winners will be announced at the completion of the challenge.

TechTalk Podcast

The TechTalk podcast is hosted by the FDA and focuses on cutting-edge topics. Each quarter we will examine a different aspect of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint for which there are novel technological approaches and solutions. This podcast features top experts in the field involved in food safety and technology.

In the first installment in April, experts from the Institute of Food Technologists, FMI: The Food Industry Association, and the global standards organization GS1 discussed the role they envision new technologies playing in improving traceability, and the advice they have for food producers contemplating next steps in their traceability journey.

Click here for the complete announcement.