What Is Food Traceability and Why Is It Essential?

If you are in the food manufacturing, distribution, and retail industry, then you understand the importance of food traceability. What average individuals do not know is that before food products become available for consumption, there is a lot of care and precaution necessary to guarantee quality and safety. The role of traceability in this process is vital because it keeps track of every step and stage in food procurement and production. Through a traceability system, the manufacturer can locate issues and address them at the very stage they occurred.

Why is food traceability essential?

A food traceability system is key to maintaining product safety at every stage of the process. Through this system, you can promptly detect problems and address them right away. The primary objectives of implementing a food traceability system are:

  • Providing accurate information to the consumer
  • Adhere to food quality and safety standards
  • Test and certify product recalls

Perhaps the most practical application of food traceability is to help companies determine how and where food contamination occurred. In recent years, news regarding food poisoning attributed to a particular product caused significant concern for the food industry. With the help of a food traceability system, it is possible to pinpoint exactly how and why the food became contaminated. This information will help address the problem so that it does not occur again.

Two components of traceability

Every traceability system consists of two parts which are tracing and tracking. The purpose of tracing is to create a detailed history of how each product moved through the food supply chain. Apart from providing the history for each unit, tracing should also include information on every batch of product as it moves from manufacturing, distribution, and ultimately consumption.

On the other hand, tracking refers to the capability of pinpointing the location or destination of a product. In essence, tracing means historical information on a product, while tracking pertains to its movement and destination.

Who is responsible for guaranteeing food traceability?

The responsibility to guarantee food traceability depends on your location. Essentially, every stakeholder involved in food production, manufacturing, and distribution needs to adhere to strict traceability standards. If you are a farmer, for example, you take part in making sure that a traceability system is in place before your products leave your farm.

The state is also tasked with ensuring that all stakeholders comply with traceability standards. Not only does the state have an obligation to monitor compliance, but they are also responsible for implementing sanctions in case someone violates these standards.

The need for a food traceability system

Most companies in the food industry implement a food traceability system explicitly designed for their needs. The process is often customised to enhance its effectiveness. In a nutshell, every food traceability system has to be cost-effective yet results-oriented and verifiable. If you are looking to implement a food traceability system, look for a provider that is closely linked to the food industry. Check if the system complies with industry standards, and determine if the system is customisable according to the unique needs of your business.

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