The Institute of Food Technologists has recommended the Food and Drug Administration to require food suppliers keep electronic data of traceback information at least two years and that information be available to the agency within 24 hours after requested.

Those are two of the detailed recommendations the FDA should take to improve tracking food in commercial distribution in the U.S., according to an institute report.

The FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition commissioned the IFT report in 2008.

The agency said in a release that the report is one step in a mission to collect information from all stakeholders on ways to improve the FDA’s ability to trace food and ultimately reduce the number of foodborne illnesses. The FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture scheduled a public meeting Dec. 9-10 in Washington, D.C., on food traceability.

In its report, IFT recommends that supply chain partners should know where all cases were shipped, in lot numbers shipped to each locations and date or time of manufacture or harvest. The IFT recommended that suppliers provide electronic records to the FDA within 24 hours, though the way that firms capture and record data is not stipulated.

The group also recommended that the ability to trace product should be part of any third-party audit and said there needs to be approved standardized terminology in traceability systems.