IFT’s Global Food Traceability Center shares knowledge, research, and resources to help reduce the frequency and severity of foodborne illness outbreaks.
Safety • Institute of Food Technologists
Every year, one in six Americans experiences a foodborne illness, according to the Institute of Food Technologists, and of those, 130,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. But when outbreaks occur, the complexity of the global food supply chain often makes it difficult to trace the source.
IFT knew that accurate, efficient tracing worldwide would require a coordinated effort, and in 2013, in collaboration with industry stakeholders, it launched the Global Food Traceability Center to serve all aspects of the food system, from agriculture to consumer. The GFTC shares knowledge, expertise, applied research, data, and resources to limit risk and improve food safety.
“As food production and distribution systems become increasingly complex, interdependent, and globalized, businesses, regulators, and consumers need practical solutions to a spectrum of food-related challenges,” says Bryan Hitchcock, IFT’s senior director of food chain and executive director of the GFTC.
Traceability includes following the path of ingredients or finished food products throughout their entire lifecycle. IFT works to accelerate the digitization of food supply chains, and it advances food traceability through research, development, education, and training. Seafood traceability is one area where IFT has made progress recently: The organization helped establish the first-ever global standards for tracking seafood products from point of origin to point of sale.
“The food industry has come a long way in reducing the frequency and severity of foodborne illness outbreaks,” Hitchcock says. “And through continued focus, learning, collaboration, and the implementation of strategic technology, we can continue to mitigate the impact of foodborne illness.”