U.S – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken steps to further assist the industry in understanding the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Food Traceability Final Rule by sharing frequently asked questions (FAQs) and additional tools.
The Food Traceability Final Rule aims to streamline the identification and swift removal of potentially contaminated food from the market, ultimately reducing foodborne illnesses and related fatalities. The rule applies to foods listed on the Food Traceability List (FTL).
The newly released FAQs address common inquiries to provide greater clarity on how the rule specifically applies to different scenarios.
The FDA developed these responses based on industry interactions and questions submitted via the Technical Assistance Network—an invaluable resource for FSMA-related inquiries. By addressing industry concerns, the FDA aims to facilitate smoother implementation of the Food Traceability Final Rule.
A comprehensive set of tools
To further educate and inform the industry about the Food Traceability Final Rule, the FDA has also provided additional tools on its traceability website.
These tools include Expanded Risk-Ranking Model Results, Enhanced Food Traceability List Webpage, New Supply Chain Examples, Informative Fact Sheets, Guide for Getting Started, and Expanded Language Options.
The FDA has made available the complete outcomes of the Risk-Ranking Model for Food Tracing, encompassing all foods and associated commodity-hazard pairs, going beyond what is listed on the food traceability list. This provides a more comprehensive understanding of the model’s assessments.
It has also updated the Food Traceability List webpage to clarify that “nut butters” encompass all forms of nut butters, including shelf-stable, refrigerated, and frozen products.
The regulator has introduced eight additional supply chain examples that illustrate how the Food Traceability Final Rule is applied in various scenarios and commodities. These examples help industry stakeholders gain practical insights into implementation.
Additionally, it has released two fact sheets—one on recordkeeping information for produce farms and another on coverage and exemption for produce farms. These fact sheets provide specific guidance tailored to the needs of the produce farming sector.
To aid industry compliance efforts, the FDA has developed a “Guide to Getting Started with the Food Traceability Rule.” This guide serves as a comprehensive resource to assist businesses in understanding and navigating the requirements of the rule effectively.
Moreover, recognizing the diverse needs of stakeholders, it has added foreign language translations of the Critical Tracking Event and Key Data Elements interactive tool, along with additional supply chain examples.
Compliance deadline and future implications
It is crucial for businesses subject to the Food Traceability Rule to be aware that the compliance date for implementation is January 20, 2026.
Adhering to this deadline ensures that industry players can align their practices with the requirements and contribute to a more effective and efficient food traceability system.
By providing updated FAQs and a range of informative tools, the FDA aims to equip industry professionals with the necessary knowledge and resources to navigate the Food Traceability Final Rule successfully.
Embracing these guidelines will enable stakeholders to enhance food safety practices, protect public health, and foster a more resilient and reliable food supply chain.