More than five years ago, the architects of the Produce Traceability Initiative planned for the day that the U.S. government agreed that the system was a good one and would fit within the law.

That day is coming closer, after the Institute of Food Technologists issued an early March report on two food segment pilot studies that found PTI’s framework aligned with the institute’s recommendations.

The Food and Drug Administration directed the institute’s work.

Along with processed foods, tomatoes were chosen for the pilot because their variety of growing methods and growing regions make them complex, and because they have been involved in food safety outbreaks.

Produce companies know the Food Safety Modernization Act will affect their businesses, but those who invested early in PTI may see their work pay off.

One technology provider who took part in the pilot said companies who invested in PTI should read the report with relief because it substantiates the methodology of PTI.

Of course, it’s a government project, so the report was more than 300 pages, and the next step is a public comment period, which ends April 5. After that, the FDA will still have to look at the best record-keeping regulations.

Despite the slow adoption of PTI, it’s looking more and more like it will be the norm. Soon more retailers will fulfill their end of traceability and start expecting it from suppliers.

Whether from the government or buyers, it will then be mandatory.

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