Think of FoodTRACE as a universal translator among produce traceability solutions.

The software application, a collaborative development between Alternate Logistics Marketing and Del Rey Systems and Technologies, both in San Diego, has the ability to collect traceability information from any company — and, in any form — and standardize it so information can be read in a single language.

It’s basically creating a huge traceability network.

“Companies use a huge variety of internal methods and formats for their traceability,” said Mike Domingos, president of Alternate Logistics Marketing. “Whatever format is being used, we can standardize it.

“The biggest push right now is for the Produce Traceability Initiative, a GS standard. (The Produce Traceability Initiative) is trying to get thousands of companies around the country to do the same thing. What we’re saying is, let companies continue what they’re doing. We’ll interpret the information for them.”

An added benefit, Domingos said, is that FoodTRACE can interpret information from imports, something PTI does not track.

What makes FoodTRACE attractive, Domingos said, is that the system is fully electronic. There is no software, hardware or numbers to buy and no additional personnel required. For a monthly fee, FoodTRACE takes a company’s existing information and standardizes it so it can be read by anyone that company chooses, through a secure Web portal.

Domingos said that reduces the cost of comprehensive traceability to much less than one cent per carton.

“Companies already identify their product,” he said. “We don’t think you need to re-identify it. Just transmit the information to our data base, and we’ll link the information.”

Domingos said his company and Del Rey just completed a live test of FoodTRACE, tracking a shipment of roma tomatoes from Mexico, to a distributor in California, to a retail distributor in Arizona and, finally, out to 50 stores throughout Arizona.

“We were able to link information throughout the process,” Domingos said.

FoodTRACE is available now. Domingos said it typically takes 30-45 days for the process of integrating the software is complete.

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(Note on correction: Due to an editing error, a quote from Mike Domingos originally referred to the federal government, not the Produce Traceability Initiative, as working to get thousands of companies to adopt a standard.)