Tools to Aid the Trek to Food Traceability
As the compliance date for the FSMA Traceability Rule continues to draw ever closer, food establishments are beginning to realize the complexity of the rule and its various acronyms (FTL, CTE, KDE, TLC, etc.). Thankfully, tools are being developed and published to assist with your compliance. Two of the most recent are the FDA’s FAQs and Tools and TAG’s exclusive Traceability Toolkit.
FDA FAQs and Tools
In late June, FDA published a Constituent Update to provide industry with more information about the
Traceability Rule. With the rule intended to facilitate faster identification and rapid removal of potentially contaminated food from the market and result in fewer foodborne illnesses and deaths, FDA has provided industry with:
- Frequently Asked Questions to address questions FDA has received from industry and help clarify how the rule applies to specific situations.
- A Risk-Ranking Model for Food Tracing which addresses all foods and associated commodity-hazard pairs beyond those of the Food Traceability List.
- Additional description on the Food Traceability List webpage to clarify that “nut butters” include all forms.
- What you need to know about the Food Traceability Rule fact sheets including:
- Eight new supply chain examples and additional translations
This last area illustrates how the rule is applied in different scenarios for different commodities, which TAG sees as being of the most value. In addition to the in-depth produce, seafood, and cheese examples on the main page, FDA adds specific examples for aquaculture tilapia, canned tomatoes, canned salmon, aquaculture canned salmon, fresh tomatoes sent to retail and meal kits, imported mangoes, in-line shell egg, and off-line egg. As shown by these examples, every food and food product is different and requires different applications of the rule. It is for this reason that TAG has developed a Traceability Toolkit.
TAG Traceability Toolkit
To enable compliance by January 20, 2026, companies in the food industry need a logical, stepwise approach to building or augmenting their traceability programs. The TAG Toolkit presents our recommendations on how the industry can identify foods or ingredients subject to the rule, determine recordkeeping and data-sharing strategies, and create compliant traceability programs.
The TAG Toolkit dives deeply into this new regulation and is broadly targeted, but not limited, to produce growers, aquaculture and fisheries, shell-egg producers, food manufacturers, food distributors, and retail food and restaurants. Our Toolkit includes chapters with in-depth examples for each CTE and required KDEs that go into more detail than the FDA Supply Chain examples, providing scenarios of rule-compliant KDE fields and the need to consider many-to-one and one-to-many data structures.
Additionally, the toolkit describes a step-by-step process for identifying and documenting required CTEs, template documents to complete your Traceability Plan, written agreement template documents, exclusive TAG-developed traceability training, and access to TAG Traceability Subject Matter experts to help guide you on your traceability journey.
The first chapter of the toolkit, which provides an introduction to the rule – including the Food Traceability List, Critical Tracking Events (CTEs) and Key Data Elements (KDEs), the Traceability Plan, Recordkeeping Requirements and Exemptions – is available now for FREE download from the TAG Traceability webpage.
The full toolkit will be available at the end of July. Watch this space, contact us, and/or visit TAG at IAFP (Booth #413) for more information on how to attain your Traceability Toolkit and schedule TAG support!