Kezzler named a winner of FDA’s Food Traceability Challenge

FDA announces winner of a new era of smarter food safety low- or no-cost tech-enabled traceability challenge
Kezzler named a winner of FDA’s Food Traceability Challenge

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The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) announced that Kezzler was selected as a winner of the FDA New Era of Smarter Food Safety Low- or No-Cost Tech-Enabled Traceability Challenge.

The FDA will hold a Winners Webinar on 28 September from 11 am to 1 pm ET where Kezzler will present an overview of their challenge submission to the public, along with the other winners.

Kezzler chief executive officer, Christine C Akselsen, is honored to receive this acknowledgment from the FDA, “We strongly support the efforts of the FDA in uniting the industry to tackle the challenges faced by the Food industry. Tech-enabled traceability helps to support food safety and can open up new channels to communicate directly with increasingly demanding consumers.”

New era of smarter food safety

Back in July 2020, the FDA announced their New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint to focus on leveraging technology to reduce foodborne illness by creating a safer and more digital, traceable food system. The FDA New Era of Smarter Food Safety Low- or No-Cost Tech-Enabled Traceability Challenge was launched to support these efforts.

The objective of the challenge was to encourage stakeholders, such as technology providers, to present affordable food traceability solutions “to advance the widespread, consistent implementation of traceability systems across the food industry.”

The FDA invited Kezzler to enter a submission for the challenge. A summary of the concept for a Lightweight & Expandable Data Architecture Enabling Low-Cost Traceability was delivered with a description of the technical design explaining how it utilizes existing technology, off-the-shelf infrastructure, and widely-accepted industry standards to build a scalable and cost-effective solution.

Making traceability affordable and usable

Frederic Clulow, general manager Americas at Kezzler, highlights the importance of making a traceability system that is affordable and easy to use. “Traceability systems can be complex and onerous to implement. While large organizations have the financial and technological resources to implement farm-to-fork systems, these remain out of reach for the overwhelming majorities of the close to two million small to midsize farms in the United States, leaving them with the no-to-little capability to deploy systems to improve production visibility or support track-back efforts to fight against food-borne illness. Kezzler’s proposal aims at making traceability affordable and usable by tackling the realities faced by everyday growers.”

Kezzler’s concept was predicated on a decentralized, open-market ecosystem that would enable growers to generate unique identifiers via easy-to-use cloud-based self-service portals and leveraging progressive web applications to effect simple data acquisition using infrastructure already available in everybody’s pocket. The data collected is meant to be kept at the minimum to limit friction during harvesting and packaging while automating some of the information required for a successful product trackback. Data encoding, formatting, and exchanges would leverage existing the widely accepted GS1 family of standards.

Submissions reviewed by panel of judges

Following the closing date for the challenge, all submissions were reviewed by a panel of judges from the federal government – both internal and external to the FDA. The panel included experts from technology, public health, and the food industry. Winners were selected based on how well their submissions fulfilled the evaluation criteria set out by the FDA. Criteria included Usability, Scalability, Affordability, and the solution's ability to address the specific traceability challenge for the target segment.

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Promoting food safety through technology

The challenge garnered widespread interest from within the Food Industry and related sectors, with 90 unique submissions. Kezzler CEO Christine C Akselsen is proud to be part of this important initiative promoting food safety through technology, “Trust, transparency and visibility are important in all industries, but perhaps none more so than the global food supply chain. The recent pandemic and growing awareness amongst conscious consumers about a range of sustainability and food safety issues have highlighted the need for cost-effective, scalable solutions that lower the barriers to implementing technology-enabled traceability solutions.

There is a responsibility for the industry to harness digital solutions that can support safety throughout the supply chain

With almost one in ten people in the world falling ill after eating contaminated food every year, the industry is responsible for harnessing digital solutions that can support safety throughout the supply chain. I am proud of the efforts from the Kezzler team for their winning submission, proposing a solution that works within the constraints of the industry – independent of technology providers. I extend my congratulations to all participants and we look forward to our continued collaboration with the FDA and the industry at large to welcome a new era of food safety.”

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