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TRACING SYSTEM

Send a personal message to your legislators through our petition system by clicking on “Oppose HR 2749“.  

Talking Point:  HR 2749 charges the Secretary of Health and Human Services with establishing a tracing system for food.  Each “person who produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, or holds such food” would have to “maintain the full pedigree of the origin and previous distribution history of the food,” and “establish and maintain a system for tracing the food that is interoperable with the systems established and maintained by other such persons.”  The bill does not explain how far the traceback will extend or how it will be done for multi-ingredient foods.  With all these ambiguities, it’s far from clear how much it will cost either the farmers or the taxpayers.

* * * * * * *

Excerpt from June 15 Post by Pete Kennedy(page references to Pallone’s version–See corresponding Waxman’s version at end):

B. TRACEABILITY 

The FSEA charges the HHS Secretary with establishing a tracing system for food:

Such regulations shall require each person who produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, or holds such food–

  • to maintain the full pedigree of the origin and previous distribution history of the food;
  • to link that history with the subsequent distribution history of the food;
  • to establish and maintain a system for tracing the food that is interoperable with the systems established and maintained by other such persons; and
  • to use a unique identifier for each facility for such person for such purpose.  [section 107(c)(2)(A)(i)–pp. 43-44]

The tracing system must enable the Secretary to “identify each person who grows, produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, holds, or sells such food in as short a timeframe as practicable but no longer than 2 business days.”  In issuing related regulations, the Secretary may include:

“(A)  the establishment and maintenance of  lot numbers;

“(B)  a standardized format for pedigree information; and

“(C)  the use of a common nomenclature for food.”  [section 107(c)(3)–p. 45] 

“Pedigree” is not used in reference to food anywhere in the United States Code (USC) or the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) nor is it referenced as such in any dictionary.  FDA is being given power to invent a new meaning for this word.  How far will the traceback extend to determine the full pedigree?  Will it go back to the harvested crop (or even seed) from which the food is produced?  How will traceback be done on multi-ingredient foods?  Will part of determining the full pedigree require tracing the inputs used in food?  How large a database will be needed to store this information?  What will the cost of it be?  How many people will FDA have to hire in order to enforce traceability?

There is an exemption from the traceability requirements for direct-marketed food, “if such food is–

“(i) produced on a farm; and

“(ii) sold by the owner, operator, or agent in charge of such farm  directly to a consumer or to a restaurant or grocery store.” [section 107(c)(4)(A)–p. 46]. 

For example, vegetables grown on a farm and sold at a farmers market would be exempt.  But if that same farmer brought peaches from a neighbor’s farm to sell at the market, the peaches would not be exempt.

* * * * * * *

Waxman’s version (June 17)

* * Pallone section 107(c)(2)(A)(i)-pp. 43-44 = Waxman pp. 54-56 * *

(c) PRODUCT

TRACING FOR FOOD.—Section 414 (21 U.S.C. 350c), as amended by section 106, is amended—

     (1) by redesignating subsections (c) and (d) assubsections (d) and (e), respectively; and (2) by inserting after subsection (b) the following:

       ‘‘(c) TRACING SYSTEM FOR FOOD.—

             ‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall by regulation establish a tracing system for food that is located in the United States or is for import into the United States.

             ‘‘(2) INFORMATION GATHERING.—

                  ‘‘(A) TRACING TECHNOLOGIES.—Before issuing a proposed regulation under this subsection, the Secretary shall—

                           ‘‘(i) identify technologies and methodologies for tracing the distribution history of a food that are, or may be, used by members of different sectors of the food industry, including technologies and methodologies to enable each person who produces, manufactures, processes, pack, transports, or holds a food to—

                                ‘‘(I) maintain the full pedigree of the origin and previous distribution history of the food;

                               ‘‘(II) link that history with the subsequent distribution of the food;

                               ‘‘(III) establish and maintain a system for tracing the food that is interoperable with the systems established and maintained by other such persons; and

                                 ‘‘(IV) use a unique identifier for each facility owned or operated by such person for such purpose, as specified under section 911; and

                       ‘‘(ii) to the extent practicable, assess—

                                  ‘‘(I) the costs and benefits associated with the adoption and use of such technologies;

                                  ‘‘(II) the feasibility of such technologies for different sectors of the food industry; and

                                  ‘‘(III) whether such technologies are compatible with the requirements of this subsection.

* * Pallone section 107(c)(3)-p. 45 = Waxman pp. 56-57 * *

  ‘‘(3) REGULATION.—Taking into account information obtained through information gathering under paragraph (2), the Secretary shall issue regulations establishing a tracing system that enables the Secretary to identify each person who grows, produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, holds, or sells such food in as short a timeframe as practicable but no longer than 2 business days. The Secretary may include in such regulation—         ‘‘(A) the establishment and maintenance of lot numbers;

        ‘‘(B) a standardized format for pedigree information; and

       ‘‘(C) the use of a common nomenclature for food.

* * Pallone section 107(c)(4)(A)-p. 46 = Waxman p. 57 [words added in (A)(i) and (E)] * *

‘‘(4) EXEMPTIONS.—

        ‘‘(A) DIRECT SALES BY FARMS.—Food is exempt from the requirements of this subsection if such food is—

                 ‘‘(i) produced on a farm or fishery(including an oyster bed, a wild fishery, an aquaculture facility, a fresh water fishery, and a saltwater fishery); and

                ‘‘(ii) sold by the owner, operator, or agent in charge of such farm or fishery directly to a consumer or to a restaurant or grocery store.

       ‘‘(B) OTHER FOODS.—The Secretary may by notice in the Federal Register exempt a food or a type of facility, farm, or restaurant from, or modify the requirements with respect to, the requirements of this subsection if the Secretary determines that a tracing system for such food or type of facility, farm, or restaurant is not necessary to protect the public health.

      ‘‘(C) PREVIOUS SOURCES AND SUBSEQUENT RECIPIENTS.—For a food covered by an exemption under subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall require each person who produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, or holds such food to maintain records to identify the immediate previous sources of such food and its ingredients and the immediate subsequent recipients of such food.

      ‘‘(D) RESTAURANTS AND GROCERY STORES.—For a food covered by an exemption under subparagraph (A), restaurants and grocery stores shall keep records documenting the farm that was the source of the food.

     ‘‘(E) FARMS AND FISHERIES.—For a food covered by an exemption under subparagraph (A), farms and fisheries shall keep records, in electronic or non-electronic format, for at least 6 months documenting the restaurant or grocery store to which the food was sold’’.

The “Oppose HR 2749” petition is posted at https://ftcldf.org/petitions/pnum993.php

Information provided courtesy Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (www.farmtoconsumer.org)

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