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PTI Cleared for Takeoff

by Todd Baggett, November 16, 2012

This year at the PMA Fresh Summit, I noticed a distinctive change in attitude about PTI. 

Most grower shippers recognize that PTI is coming and that it is time for them to get started. That was definitely not the case between 2009 and 2011, when we saw a fair number of companies with no idea what of it was, much less plans to get started.

What can we attribute this shift to?

First, I think the high visibility of foodborne illnesses in cantaloupe and other commodities during the past two years has created a heightened public awareness of the need for whole chain traceability.

Second, I think there is an emerging legal and liability aspect to it. In class action suits filed after outbreaks, we are seeing everyone involved named – from the grower to the marketer to the retailer.  In at least one case, even the company that provided facility audits was named. The new twist in legal action is the additional claim of negligence with the basis that the industry has already defined a solution, and that if it had been in place, contaminated product could have been pulled from the market more quickly.

A third point was made by Tom Karst, National Editor for The Packer, in an article about the impact the election results will have on the industry. He cites former FDA  Associate Commissioner, David Acheson, as saying that President Obama’s re-election should significantly increase the pace at which food safety regulation comes out. In fact, Mr. Acheson said the election effectually removed the stopper at the Office of Budget and Management (OMB), and he would not be surprised if we saw the FDA issue new proposed food safety regulation before the end of the year.

Fasten your seatbelts; it appears the PTI has finally been cleared for takeoff.


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