Oslo, Norway, September 13, 2021- The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) announced today that Kezzler was selected as a winner of the FDA New Era of Smarter Food Safety Low- or No-Cost Tech-Enabled Traceability Challenge.
Kezzler CEO, Christine C. Akselsen is honored to receive this acknowledgement 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 consumersChristine C. Akselsen, CEO Kezzler
New Era of Smarter Food Safety
Back in July 2020, the FDA announced their New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint with a focus on leveraging technology to reduce foodborne illness through the creation of a safer and more digital, traceable food system. To support these efforts, the FDA New Era of Smarter Food Safety Low- or No-Cost Tech-Enabled Traceability Challenge was launched.
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.” (i)
Kezzler was invited by the FDA to enter a submission for the challenge. A summary of the concept for a Lightweight & Expandable Data Architecture Enabling Low-Cost Traceability was delivered together 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 both 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 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 that is 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 the fields of technology, public health, and/or 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 ability of the solution to address the specific traceability challenge for the target segment.
Promoting food safety through technology
The Challenge garnered widespread interest from within the Food Industry and related sectors, with a total of 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 issues such as sustainability and food safety, have highlighted the need for cost-effective, scalable solutions that lower the barriers to implementing technology-enabled traceability solutions.
With almost one in ten people in the world falling ill after eating contaminated food every year there is a responsibility for the industry to harness 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.”
(i) FDA – https://precision.fda.gov/challenges/13