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Today, more than ever, the world has learned how a lack of traceability can disrupt so many industries on a global scale. In an effort to standardize and enhance produce tracking throughout the supply chain, industry leaders introduced the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) as a framework of standards and best practices for food safety. Being PTI-compliant not only allows whole chain members to quickly pass produce tracking information to consumers, but also to the FDA in the event of serious foodborne illness outbreak investigations.
With produce traceability software, growers and distributors can operate more efficiently. They can track the origin of fresh produce in real time to determine if it is locally grown, and identify if it is defective or contaminated. The accuracy produce traceability software offers allows businesses to promote food safety and establish trust with consumers and work with the FDA more effectively to protect the health and safety of the public.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and barcodes are the typical technologies used for fresh produce tracking in real time. RFID tags play a critical role thanks to their code-carrying capabilities, which, unlike barcodes, can be read without a direct line of sight. Certain limitations of this technology, however, prevent it from widespread use, such as its overall cost and readability.
RFID tags and other types of traceability software used to read them are simply too expensive to be used for item-level tagging in the produce industry. While they can be read without a direct line of sight, their readability highly depends on the density and orientation of the package. Fresh produce that is wrapped in too many layers of material or have shifted in their packaging are less likely to have their RFID tag read correctly. Water, which is a common element necessary for preserving fresh produce, can also interfere with RFID tag scanning.
A more commonly used method for produce tracking in real time is barcodes. Because they are more cost-effective than RFID tags, barcodes can be placed on an item-level and case-level. Their format can also be adjusted to coincide with specific packages and labels, and they are generally reliable for securing food safety data. Nowadays, buyers can easily scan QR codes on fresh produce labels to retrieve information on a product. This helps build trust between the industry and consumers, and also helps speed up the turnaround time on product recalls during FDA investigations.
Many traceability software systems exist in today's market for managing food safety traceability of fresh produce throughout the entirety of the supply chain. However, a large majority of these rely on a combination of software modules and plugins to capture information in real time from different stages in the supply chain, such as farming, processing, packaging and distribution. Additionally, not all of these systems are able to seamlessly integrate with platforms used by grocery retailers to capture data from products.
The best option for growers and distributers looking to modernize and reinforce PTI standards for food safety in the produce industry is to leverage new developments in produce traceability software and partner with certified professional software development experts to enable accurate access to the origin of fresh produce and the journey throughout the supply network.
For more information regarding produce traceability and food safety software solutions, visit chetu.com/food-and-beverage/traceability.php and chetu.com/food-and-beverage/quality-management.php
Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
Chetu was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Florida. We deliver World-Class Software Development Solutions serving entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 clients. Our services include process and systems design, package implementation, custom development, business intelligence and reporting, systems integration, as well as testing, maintenance and support. Chetu's expertise spans across the entire IT spectrum.
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