Tracking Quality Data and the FSMA Proposed Rule for Food Traceability

Why should seafood producers, processors, and retailers capture and track food quality data?


Most seafood companies do not track product quality data today. Instead, most companies have a trained expert conduct a sensory evaluation of inbound seafood. This evaluation often consists of checking production/harvest dates, checking internal temperature, and smell. If the fish smells okay, the temp and the dates look okay; then the fish is received, cut, packed, and shipped to the customer. Often, a paper record of the evaluation is kept but rarely looked at again.


What if a customer complains about a seafood product's quality or shelf life? What if there is a recall of the product? That is when an accurate digital record of the quality of the seafood upon receipt would be invaluable. How good would you feel about your seafood supplier that sends a digital record of the quality of every lot of fresh fish you buy from them? Would you give that supplier more orders and grow your business with them? Of course. That is how digital quality data records can help seafood handlers grow long-term sales and relationships.


The Food Safety Modernization Act should be the catalyst to help food producers and distributors improve product quality testing and traceability. (FSMA) was signed into law in 2011 by President Obama. Most portions of the law went into effect from 2016 through 2020.

FSMA's Food Traceability Rule 204 has yet to go into effect. The final Rule 204 will be published in the federal register on Nov 7, 2022. The rule will go into effect 60 days later, in January 2023. The law gives companies two years to comply with the regulation, or January 2025. Rule 204 has a list of food products that the rule applies to, including all fish, seafood (except catfish), and shellfish; most produce items, including deli salads, cheese, and eggs.


FSMA Rule 204 requires all companies in the supply chain, from growers to final sellers, to track shipments with a traceability lot code and Key Data Elements (KDE). Key Data Elements include product identifier, harvest date, location, and quantity of food produced, harvested, or made. The rule does not require tracing food safety or quality grading data. But it makes sense for companies to include quality data in KDE tracing. Here is more background on FSMA Rule 204.


Proposed FSMA Rule 204

https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/fsma-proposed-rule-food-traceability


Proposed Traceability List

https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/food-traceability-list#List


Key Data Elements to be Captured and Traced

https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/which-key-data-elements-would-apply-me

Certified Quality Foods are experts in fresh seafood quality evaluation and quality data tracking. Please get in touch with us to learn more about digital seafood quality data traceability and why tracking and sharing food quality data with suppliers and customers is vital for long-term business relationships and sales growth.


By: Chuck Anderson

Certified Quality Foods

617-429-5157

https://calendly.com/betterqualityfood


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