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    August 8, 2022

    Make No Little Plans

    Guest blogger Julie McGill, Vice President of Supply Chain Strategy and Insights, reflects on Frank Yiannis' presentation at the recent IAFP annual meeting and how we can cross the many bridges to food safety.

    The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) hosted its annual meeting in Pittsburgh from July 31 to August 3, 2022, providing attendees with sessions on current and emerging food safety issues, scientific solutions, and innovation in the food safety space. This year’s themes included “Go to Great Heights” and “Cross the Many Bridges to Food Safety!” echoing the steep landscape of this great American city and the complexities of our food systems. 

    Frank Yiannis, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response at the FDA, built upon that theme in his remarks at the event. In his recent LinkedIn post, he challenges us to “Imagine a future in which all the information we need about food or how it is being produced is available to us at the speed of thought. Now is not the time for small steps, neither at FDA nor in your own organization. Let’s do this together. It CAN be done.”

    Frank’s post reminds me of a preeminent Chicagoan, Daniel Burnham. Every Chicagoan is familiar with his famous quote, “Make no little plans.”, but the whole quote really sums up what is needed to truly create change, “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized. Make big plans, aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone, will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us.”

    After the Great Chicago Fire, city leaders knew they had to take new approaches to urban planning, building methods, and construction materials, with a vision to address the needs of this rapidly growing metropolis. In 1906, Daniel Burnham was asked to prepare a plan for Chicago's future growth. The “Burnham Plan” included six categories to address its residents' economic, transportation, and social needs. 

    Burnham’s words ring true today in our food systems. We are at an inflection point, and our multi-faceted, complex, global supply chains are the catalyst. To address this, the FDA is taking a new approach to food safety through the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, leveraging technology and other tools and techniques to create a safer, more digital, traceable food system. 

    New Era focuses on four core elements: 

    1. Tech-enabled Traceability
    2. Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention and Outbreak Response
    3. New Business Models and Retail Modernization
    4. Food Safety Culture

    With the pending regulation, FSMA 204 proposed rule, we have another bridge to cross as companies prepare to collect enhanced traceability data for products listed on the FDA’s Food Traceability List. This work will be complex and require collaboration and input from stakeholders across the food industry, including growers, processors, distributors, operators, grocers, solution providers, associations, and many others. 

    As I read the comments to Frank’s LinkedIn post, a few key themes appeared: 

    1. Tech Enabled: Food traceability technology exists today. 
    2. Smarter Approaches: Food safety should be smart, digital, transparent, collaborative, and embedded in every food safety stakeholder’s culture.
    3. Standards-Based: There are industry-led, consensus-based standards in place today for the food industry. The application of these will be key to our success.

    FoodLogiQ Track + Trace provides a platform to gather Critical Tracking Events for your products and ingredients at the lot level. Track + Trace can also visualize your entire supply chain, delivering the data-driven transparency your company needs today and tomorrow.

    I’ll quote these two remarkable visionaries once again:
    “Make no little plans.” 
    “Let’s do this together. It CAN be done.”

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