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    Produce Traceability Committee Sets Markers for Progress

    Committee reaches consensus on critical milestones for chainwide produce traceability plan.

    The Produce Traceability Initiative's steering committee -- which consists of over 40 leading companies from across the produce supply chain -- has reached consensus on the critical milestones needed to accomplish whole-chain traceability for the produce industry.

    Committee chair Cathy Green, c..o.o. of Food Lion, said: "There was remarkable participation and collaboration that took place both in our meeting and in various subgroups to reach alignment on what is needed for whole-chain traceability. We've reached a vital step to help companies know what needs to be done to ensure the ability of this industry to quickly and efficiently track and trace product up and down the produce supply chain. We are now moving forward to develop timelines as part of an overall action plan for industry implementation."

    Green said the committee anticipates getting feedback from the boards of the three associations that created the initiative - Produce Marketing Association (PMA), United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh) and Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) - to ensure the support of the respective memberships. "They will be the ones who ultimately will help drive our work forward," said Green.

    To educate their industry members and to solicit members' input, all three associations will provide a summary version of the committee's latest activities, as well as other resources being used by the initiative. Members will receive information on how to access these materials directly from their associations. 

    During the committee's most recent meeting, a new subgroup was appointed to work on standardizing the format and size of case labels that should be used to display the barcode and corresponding human-readable data. The committee recommended both human-readable and bar-coded data elements.

    The boards of PMA, United Fresh and CPMA will be discussing the recommendations developed thus far during their respective meetings over the next several weeks, including during next week's Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and United Fresh conventions in Las Vegas, Nev. At that time, Green will also brief members of FMI's Food Safety Task Force on the work of the initiative.

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