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New Software Helps Distributors Comply with Bioterrorism Rules

OMAHA, NE - The latest edition of a foodservice distribution software is capable of helping distributorships maintain accurate information about the food products that they handle.

The latest edition of the IDS Power Warehouse, offered by Integrated Distribution Solutions, LLC (IDS) here, can assist distributors in complying with the new regulations as well as other food safety and traceability initiatives, according to the company. The software is capable of tracking and retaining lot numbers, production/expiration dates, and other relevant supplier information into the distribution center and out to operator-customers.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had announced on Dec. 6, 2004, the implementation of so-called Public Health and Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act. The new rules are designed to help the government trace the source of food that may turn out to be contaminated in the event that the country's food supply becomes the target of a terrorist attack.

Outgoing U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson recently expressed concerns about the vulnerability of America's food supply, saying: "There is more work to do yet, but our nation is now more prepared than ever before to protect the public against threats to the food supply."

The new rules require companies that manufacture, process, pack, transport, distribute, receive, hold or import food to establish and maintain records that identify the immediate previous source of all food received and the subsequent recipient of all food released - so-called backward and forward traceability. These records must be made available to the FDA within a very short amount of time to allow the FDA to trace food products and eliminate potentially hazardous ones from in the supply chain.

"IDS is taking an extremely far-sighted approach with our products when it comes to supporting FDA recordkeeping requirements surrounding bioterrorism and to what we see as emerging operator requirements for full product traceability," observed Todd Michaud, president of the software developer. "IDS Power Warehouse for example, has been augmented to support full lot traceability, temperature control, product production and expiration dates, and country of origin labeling. While these functionalities may exceed the internal requirements of many of our customers today, we see a growing commitment by foodservice distributors to apply a larger percentage of their IT spending on these types of issues. Some of our distributor clients have been very effective at selling these capabilities to prospective customers at the expense of those who can't offer full traceability."

These new FDA recordkeeping rules require distributors verify that adequate systems, tracking technology and processes are in place to fulfill this requirement. The rules build upon the growing industry focus on traceability and safety that all parts of the food supply chain are encountering. Lot numbers, production/expiration dates, and supplier information have become vital record keeping elements. Some restaurant operators and grocery retailers have already implemented lot traceability programs in advance of the FDA announcement, simultaneously requiring their distributors to maintain this information.

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