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NEWARK, Del. -- The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) here, along with the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association (UFPA), and the Ontario-based Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA), are collaborating in an initiative to drive broad adoption of consistent traceability best practices throughout the produce supply chain.
The three produce trade groups are combining forces to focus on the urgent need to use existing standards for the most effective trace-back and trace-forward practices between supply chain partners -- from field to fork.
Other associations representing key retail and foodservice buyer segments of the North American food industry have also expressed their intent to participate, including Food Marketing Institute (FMI), National Restaurant Association (NRA), International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), and Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (CCGD).
"Our food safety system is not complete without a more robust and quicker ability to rapidly recall our products and trace their history," said PMA president Bryan Silbermann. "The issue of how to have improved produce traceability is not about the technology; it's about changing our business practices. Effective traceability must be a business imperative for everyone in our industry. Consumers and regulators expect it."
In the last three years, CPMA and PMA have focused substantial resources developing our joint Implementation Guide to Fresh Produce Traceability, said CPMA president Danny Dempster. "However, it's clear from a survey recently done by our two associations that a lot of work remains to drive greater adoption across the industry. Recent food safety concerns have added urgency to the need for more effective traceability."
"The CPMA and PMA work on traceability to date has provided a good roadmap for the industry," said UFPA president Tom Stenzel. "Now, it's critical to drive industry support to actually implement some of these systems that can provide the traceability we need, without inefficiencies or costs that could be imposed upon us by well-meaning legislators or regulators who don't understand our industry."
The three associations will hold further talks during PMA's upcoming Fresh Summit convention that kicks off this Friday in Houston, where traceability will receive substantial coverage in general sessions and workshops. An announcement will be made later this month with the names of industry leaders appointed to lead the new initiative.