WASHINGTON – The National Grocers Association (NGA), which represents independent supermarket operators, issued a statement on Wednesday contending that a proposed Food and Drug Administration rule on food traceability would disproportionately hurt small grocers.
The trade group notes that the proposed rule aims to establish additional traceability recordkeeping requirements for persons who manufacture, process, pack or hold foods the FDA has designated for inclusion on the Food Traceability List (FTL). Specifically, the rule requires these entities to establish and maintain records containing Key Data Elements (KDEs) associated with different Critical Tracking Events (CTEs). The compliance date for all persons subject to the recordkeeping requirements is January 20, 2026.
“Grocers are a customer’s last touch, and often times the face of our vastly diverse food supply chain, and in turn, makes product recalls an established part of our members operations,” said Stephanie Johnson, NGA vice president, government relations. “Having the safest food supply chain in the world is a common goal shared among stakeholders. However, while we appreciate FDA’s efforts, this final rule unfortunately does not take an approach that provides flexibility for smaller operators as intended by Congress.”
NGA had submitted comments to the FDA on the proposed rule and participated in listening sessions to outline concerns, including the expanded scope and complexity of the proposed rule, the implementation phase-in period, and requirements of persons subject to the rule to produce a sortable electronic spreadsheet within 24 hours as foods including cheese, eggs, nut butters, some fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and ready-to-eat deli salads move through the supply chain.
“Smaller retailers will be disproportionately impacted by this final rule as it will be expensive to implement and require additional labor that many stores cannot spare,” Johnson said.
The trade group also contends that the new rule exceeds the FDA’s statutory authority, noting that The Food Safety Modernization Act explicitly prohibits case-level tracking and electronic recordkeeping, both of which are included as requirements in this rule.
“NGA and independent community grocers across the country are fully committed to working collaboratively with industry partners and government to address ongoing concerns and developing common sense solutions moving forward,” Johnson said.
NGA said it will continue analyzing this rule to understand the full impact on our members and share resources as they become available.