FDA airs new supply-chain record-keeping rules

Restaurants may have to update their recording processes if they deal in certain products, including seafood and cheese.
Restaurants will have to retain info from distributors in some instances./Photo: Shutterstock

Some restaurants may have to tweak their supply-chain record-keeping to comply with new rules issued by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for tracing the path of certain foods from farm or fishing boat to customers’ plates.  

The updated regulations are intended to help the watchdog agency shorten its hunt for the point of contamination in the event of a foodborne illness outbreak.

The guidelines issued Wednesday call for more exact tracking of certain foods as they move through the supply chain. They specify what information should be recorded at each step in the process and direct each link in the chain to hold onto the tracking data provided by the preceding phase.

Restaurants, for instance, will be required to note when they receive certain items and retain any sourcing and transportation data that’s provided by distributors. The information has to be in a form where it can be turned over to FDA investigators within 24 hours of a request.

If a place does not handle one of the products on the FDA's list of products to be traced, it need not observe the new guidelines. The rules also only apply to the products on the traceability list, not every food item that comes into a restaurant.

Smaller operations are exempted.

The items requiring the stepped-up tracking include seafood, cheeses, ready-to-eat deli salads, fresh-cut vegetables and certain fresh fruits.

More information on the final rule is available here.

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