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Pundit’s Mailbag — Traceability Precision

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, February 29, 2008

Our piece, Traceability Committee Cuts To The Chase For Workable Standards, brought this letter requesting some clarification:

I was hoping you could help in providing clarification for a point in the article published about traceability for produce companies. I currently work for a manufacturing company that develops VA-type products. The question I have is in the level of traceability that is going to be required for a case. In reading the GS1 traceability documentation, there are three levels of precision, which include GTIN, GTIN+LOT and GTIN+SGTIN.

I am trying to get clarification on what precision standard would be used for case identification.

— Dennis Flynn
Apio Inc.

We thank Dennis for the letter. The Produce Traceability Initiative has just come off its second meeting, held February 22 in Atlanta. It looks like the initiative is working, as it seems close to developing some specifics on exactly what will be required by the industry and when it will be required — all in the cause of full traceability.

Especially crucial is that the buying end of the community seems poised to buy into the program — and that is really crucial if we are to motivate the entire supply base to move to these standards.

We’ve promoted the importance of traceability for some time:

Our early pieces on traceability were all written by Gary Fleming, Vice President, Industry Technology & Standards at the Produce Marketing Association and an industry expert on traceability.

We asked Gary for help clarifying Dennis Flynn’s question: What level of precision is likely to be required for a case of produce? Gary was kind enough to give a succinct answer:

Regarding the “level of precision” needed for traceability on produce cases, there are three things that will be required on the case:

1. GTIN

2. Lot #

3. Pack/Harvest Date (*if not already embedded as part of the Lot #).

Well, there you have it. Three things on every case. Let’s make it happen.

Many thank to Dennis for posing the question and to Gary for helping us answer it. Traceability is an area where the industry, after many years of struggle, is finally poised to move ahead. Everyone pulling along is helping their own organization, while also helping the trade as a whole.

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