Reggie Brown Florida Tomato Assoc Gave Harvard Report
Harvard’s Executive Session
on Food Safety
Investigating Geospatial Traceability of the
Fresh Tomato Supply Chain
• Over the summer, fall, and winter of 2008,
summer fall 2008
Harvard invited Federal, state and industry
food safety officials to explore issues in the
traceback, meeting in Cambridge with faculty
and leading technology firms. The questions
posed to the group were:
– What was affecting performance?
– What might be some solutions?
– What steps might industry and government take
p g y g
next, together, collaborating to improve overall
• Industry often claimed it had data that could help
government. Government had authority to investigate.
Could industry and government collaborate to leverage
their respective assets, transform the traceback process,
and improve the nations’ food safety performance?
• Several questions loomed.
• Did industry have the data it claimed?
• Could government use such data – acquire it, make sense of it, act on
• How would having that data enable regulators to expedite
investigations, and better allocate investigative resources?
• E of use
– Can industry submit data that will support trace back investigations
with relative ease?
• Illumination of supply chain
– Can government and industry working together illuminate the supply
chain to support trace-back decision making?
• Expedite investigations
– Can collaboration expedite an investigation to suspect supply chains?
• Collaborative Platform
– Can industry and government makes sense of the data?
• A two week window was selected, from November 1
– November 14, 2008
– Both Open and Closed Systems to be tested
• Traceability data collected included:
– Growers and shippers (CTF and FTE)
– Closed Systems (Darden Restaurants)
– Distribution Centers
Data C ll i
• Using existing available software
– Famous and DataTech as examples
» Download into FDA reviewed spreadsheet for submission to
Microsoft and TIBCO for processing
• Data collected included:
– Physical Locations
– Blue Book #
– Lot ID for each transaction
– Product type/descriptions
Pr d t t p /d ripti n
– Ship and Receive dates
– Quantities shipped
– Quantities received
– Repack Runs
Lot ID Based Data Collection
The Simplified Database
• Industry leaders succeeded in gathering complete data from
some portions of the supply chains, though not all.
• Technologists learned that they could bring all this data into
alignment using off-the-shelf spreadsheet software. They
learned that they could apply advanced visualization
technologies and illuminate the flow of produce down to the lot
level and even when repacked, through these various industry
ppl h in
Further, the data and visualizations appeared to be of a kind
which could assist government to rapidly test its investigative
hypotheses perhaps (it was considered at the time) clearing
excludable swaths of industry quickly while not waiting for
the full traceback to complete, and permitting government to
concentrate resources on the non-excludable supply chains,
driving hard to the ultimate source of contamination.
With Cooperation and Active
We can have an efficient and effective
way to provide large volumes of
information in a visual format to
• The data exists
• The system for visualization is possible
• It is cost effective
• Requires minimum investment
Even in cases in which the “epi” investigation implicates
a sale from a mom/pop retailer or restaurant, considerable
/p p ,
time can be shaved off the traceback if industry stands ready
to illuminate its supply chains on a trace-forward basis from the
farm as far forward as possible (including secondary and
tertiary di ib i ) From there, it can “wait” for the top-
i distribution). F h i “ i”f h
down investigation to reach it. Having manually traced back
to that point, government investigators might then use
industry’s illuminated supply chains to rapidly conclude the
traceback through the illuminated segments of the chain, and
then traceforward. This might save considerable time and
avoid unnecessary illness and losses to industry.