You are here:

Towards an interoperable multi-actor European tracing tool ecosystem and a Universal Traceability data eXchange format: From research into practice - SA11


Funding programme / funding institution: Europäische Behörde für Lebensmittelsicherheit (EFSA) - Italien

Grant number: GP/EFSA/AMU/2020/02-SA11

Project homepage:

Project description:

I. Background

In times of complex globalised food and feed supply chains there is a strong need for efficient tracing strategies including data collection and data exchange approaches as well as powerful interoperable tracing software tools. In general, harmonised data structures, accurate and detailed datasets, digitalised data collection tools including data validation as well as Interfaces to data systems are essential to allow for a faster tracing data exchange and thorough tracing. To achieve those aims, a new project cooperation between EFSA and BfR was initiated in 2021. The project is focussed on developing a tracing data collection workflow and a Universal Traceability data eXchange format (UTX) to achieve interoperability between several national and European tracing tools developed for varying purposes in the food safety system. With that, the project unifies the synergies between tracing initiatives in the Member State (MS), Europe and beyond. Many software in the tracing data collection workflow are existing (or in development) from several initiatives: The RASFF data extraction tool developed by EFSA provides a guided and structured data extraction from unstructured RASFF notifications including plausibility checks. The Rapid Alert Supply Network Extractor (RASNEX) tool from BfR complements this tool by automatically extracting relevant tracing data beforehand from RASFF notifications using pattem recognition. To collect data on the local level, a web-based data entry mask for local food safety officers with on-site plausibility checks and access to curated data was developed by the German Federal State North Rhine-Westphalia. FoodChain-Lab (FCL), a tracing software developed by BfR, is used to visualise and analyse tracing data collected by the before mentioned tools. FCL also provides a reporting module to create a visual output for reports such as Rapid Outbreak Assessments. More tools are planned to complete the ecosystem. The Universal Traceability data eXchange (UTX) format serving as interface between the tracing tools allows for complementing their advantages to provide flexible, comprehensive solutions for any tracing setting. UTX data files can be uploaded to the RASFF System to share data and prevent double work for EFSA and the MS with regard to the laborious manual data extraction from RASFF notifications in times of crises. All in all, it is expected that the interoperable multi-actor tracing tool ecosystem and the UTX format will improve the quality, timeliness and completeness of tracing data used for immediate analysis at EFSA as well as at the MS and therefore heips to solve complex foodborne crises more efficiently.

II. Tasks:

The project is the continuation of the current EFSA-BfR Framework Partnership Agreement (GP/EFSA/AMU/2020/02) and specifically the projects SA6 "Data collection tool for tracing purposes in the context of urgent scientific advice" and SA7 "Food & feed classification for tracing purposes". The main purpose of this follow-up project is to transfer the software tools, the multi-actor tracing tool ecosystem and the UTX format as outcomes of the previous EFSA-BfR projects into practice and motivate competent authorities to actively apply those in their tasks. In parallel, the corresponding software tools will be optimised and made fit-for purpose within the EFSA-BfR project SA12 and the EFSA-BfR project SA10. In contrast to former projects in the previous FPA, this project does not focus on FCL alone but with additional tracing tools, their interplay in a workflow as well as the UTX.

WP 1 is focussed on the Coaching of MS and European authorities in tracing methodology, the tracing software ecosystem, the tools it consists of and the Universal Traceability data eXchange format to facilitate transformation from research into practice. Local, MS and European authorities will be introduced to tracing methodology, the tracing software ecosystem, the tools it consists of and the UTX format in coaching workshops conducted by BfR, EFSA and institutions which contribute tools to the tracing software ecosystem. In addition, MS and European authorities will be coached in applying the tools of the tracing tool ecosystem and the UTX format by the development of tracing scenarios (e.g. for crisis trainings) and case studies in cooperation with MS and EFSA. Those tracing scenarios and cases study datasets will also be used for simulation and feasibility testing. To guarantee a high level of applicability and userfriendliness, BfR will use the experiences of the FoodChain-Lab support team during foodborne incidents from the past (e.g. from the former contract EFSA GP/EFSA/AMU/2016/01) and the coming years. During coaching of MS on tracing in real life foodborne incident investigations, the project partners gains insight in the procedures and needs of competent authorities in the MS. All coaching activities should enable all actors of a decentralized tracing Investigation to exchange their results using the tools and methods developed within the EFSA-BfR tracing projects.

For those coaching activities, new training material should be developed in WP 2 (Development of new coaching methodologies) (e.g. online courses, demo videos, websites with case study examples, podcasts) to reduce the access level and reach MS and potential new users, that did not participate in trainings yet.

In WP 3, the focus is on Continuous multidirectional tracing networking. Here, local, MS and European authorities as well as other stakeholders (e.g. U.S. FDA, food business operators, tracing/reporting software companies) should be enabled to introduce their tracing solutions. It is intended to initiate a continuous exchange of tracing experience between those actors via suitable platforms and events which will be offered by BfR or EFSA. Furthermore, an exchange with relevant networks (e.g. Heads of Food Safety Agencies, RASFF Network, EFSA Advisory Forum on Data) is envisaged to discuss and review project results with tracing specialists and use their feedback to optimize the project results.

Finally a collaboration with EFSA projects on traceability in the food and feed supply chain (WP 4) is made to harmonize outputs and goals. This WP also leaves some space to continue on SA6 and SA7 depending on the feedback the project partners receive from the final workshops of SA6 and SA7. To enable a strong collaboration between the project partners, active staff exchange via short visits in intended.

Project partners

  • Europäische Behörde für Lebensmittelsicherheit (EFSA) - Italien




nach oben

Cookie Notice

This site only uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Find out more on how we use cookies in our Data Protection Declaration.