Perishable nature of food and its potential of being risk to health requires traceability in agri-food sector. Companies need to keep check on their products upstream and downstream process. Traceability is the ability to track any food through all stages of production, processing and distribution (including importation and at retail). Traceability should mean that movements can be traced one step backwards and one step forward at any point in the supply chain. Wide range of technological option are present, which facilitates and automates the data collection e.g., RFID (Radio Frequency Identification).

Traceability can be categorised into

  1. Supplier traceability: Provides information of suppliers for each raw material.
  2. Client traceability: Provides accurate whereabouts of the product after leaving the company premises.
  3. Process traceability: Provides information of product during various stages of processing.

Traceability should extend to identify the source of all food inputs such as raw materials, additives, other minor ingredients and packaging.

Benefits of Traceability

Traceability ensures immediate corrective actions to be implemented quickly and effectively when something goes wrong such as product recall. When a potential food safety problem is identified, whether by a food business or a government agency, an effective traceability system can help isolate and prevent contaminated products from reaching consumers. Traceability allows food businesses to target the product(s) affected by a food safety problem, minimizing disruption to trade and any potential public health risks.

Process Improvements: Improvements in product tracing often results in decreased error rates, increased product selection accuracy, and streamlined document management to more effectively manage and maximize work flow.

Increased Supply Chain Confidence: More efficient recalls that result in supply chain participants increasingly demanding improved product tracing performance from trading partners.

Return to Business as Usual: Faster recovery of normal business activities after a significant recall; faster verification that the business is not implicated in a recall

Insurance/Liability Cost Reduction: Some insurance providers require product tracing capability before they underwrite certain insurance policies for firms within the food industry.

Emergency Planning for Traceability

Preparedness: When planning for an emergency situation, traceability provides greater visibility into a supply chain, thereby helping be better prepared if something goes wrong.

Response: In case something goes wrong, traceability improves the agility of the response by all stakeholders.

Recovery: During the recovery phase, traceability allows the industry and regulators to maintain or rebuild trust with consumers into the safety and resiliency of the food system.

Prevention: Traceability allows for the determination of causality of the problem through root cause analysis, thereby preventing future issues.

Food Standard Requirement

  1. Food receipt: In relation to food receipt, a food business must be able to provide information about what food it has on the premises and where it came from. A food business must provide, to the reasonable satisfaction of an authorized officer upon request, the following information relating to food on the food premises:
    1. The name and business address of the vendor, manufacturer or packer or, in the case of food import, the name and business address of the importer; and
    2. The prescribed name or, if there is no prescribed name, an appropriate designation of the food.
    3. This means that a food business must not receive a food unless it is able to identify the name of the food and the name of the supplier.
  1. Food recall: A food business engaged in the wholesale supply, manufacture or importation of food must have a system, set out in a written document, to ensure it can recall unsafe food. The system should include records covering:
    1. Production records
    2. What products are manufactured or supplied
    3. Volume or quantity of products manufactured or supplied
    4. Batch or lot identification (or other markings)
    5. Where products are distributed
    6. Relevant production records.

This information should be readily accessible in order to know what, how much and from where product needs to be recalled.

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