On June 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will launch its New Era of Smarter Food Safety Low- or No-Cost Tech-Enabled Traceability Challenge. The challenge asks stakeholders, including technology providers, entrepreneurs, and innovators, to develop traceability tools that can be implemented in a scalable, cost-effective way for food operations of all sizes.

One of the foundational core elements of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint is tech-enabled traceability: the ability to quickly track a food throughout the food system, from when it leaves its source to when it lands on consumers' plates. Achieving end-to-end food traceability will involve everyone in the supply chain, from source to table. To achieve that level of participation, FDA needs accessible tracing solutions for human and animal food companies of all sizes. This will help ensure that even small companies can use and benefit from new tracing technologies. Digitizing data at no- or low-cost through the use of creative financial models could allow the entire food system to get smarter together.

The Low- or No-Cost Tech-Enabled Traceability Challenge is being overseen by the FDA’s Office of Food Policy and Response and administered by precisionFDA, which convenes community challenges and app-a-thons that galvanize dialogue and scientific discovery around technologies.

The challenge will invite submissions for tech-enabled solutions that address traceability needs and challenges faced by primary producers (such as entities involved in farming, fishing, and animal agriculture), importers, manufacturers and processers, distributors, and retailers and foodservice. There is a pre-registration web page that will be updated on June 1 at 8 a.m. EDT with all the information needed to participate in the challenge until the submission window closes on July 30 at 5 p.m. EDT. Up to 12 winners will be announced at the completion of the challenge.

While there is no cash prize, the challenge winners will gain significant visibility, including an opportunity to present their entry in a public forum hosted by FDA. In addition, the food industry will gain new insights into how to solve traceability challenges, and FDA will open the door to a conversation about finding new ways to overcome obstacles in the road to farm-to-fork traceability.