fruit with barcodes

FDA issues food traceability challenge

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a challenge to digitize the data in the food distribution system so contaminated food can be rapidly identified, traced and removed from the marketplace.  

The FDA’s Low- or No-Cost Tech-Enabled Traceability Challenge is asking technology providers, public health advocates, entrepreneurs and innovators to develop low- or no-cost hardware, software and data analytics tools that can rapidly identify the sources of contaminated food and help remove it from the marketplace as quickly as possible. 

Tech-enabled traceability is one of the core elements of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint that leverages technology to create a safer food system.

By democratizing the data throughout the entire food system -- which includes primary producers, importers, manufacturers and processers, distributors and finally retailers and food service businesses – the FDA hopes to enable food operations of all sizes to implement affordable, interoperable traceability tools that will create shared value and scale to encourage widespread adoption.

Until now, end-to-end food traceability has been limited because tech-enabled tracing solutions have been too expensive for smaller companies.

“Digitizing data at no- or low-cost through the use of creative financial models allows the entire food system to get smarter together,” said Frank Yiannas, deputy FDA commissioner for food policy and response. “Through this initiative, we are committed to helping ensure that even small companies can use and benefit from new tracing technologies,”

The FDA will accept submissions through July 30 and expects to announce up to 12 winners at the end of the challenge.

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