Food Chain Traceability
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All players in the food chain want to demonstrate their commitment to food quality and safety, and assure the reliability of their suppliers. A food chain traceability standard helps map and document a product’s history, creating trust and confidence toward consumers.
A food chain traceability standard is applicable to document the history or identify the location of a product, or the relevant components, either inside an individual company or in a coordinated food chain system. This can help a company provide internal logistical and quality related information, which can improve efficiency (e.g. appropriate stock rotation). Upstream, it can provide credibility to a product with undetectable quality attributes.
A safe food product is the result of all the processes and handling activities carried out throughout the entire food chain. A proper traceability system can help create a feedback loop to improve product quality, conditions and delivery, optimising related costs. It also helps provide transparency in distribution routes and improve supply chain efficiency and trading partner collaboration.
Furthermore, requirements for product identification, which are applicable in the case of non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) products, organic products, or certification of product origin, demand a secure product identification system and reliable retrieval of related product information. Last but not least, in the case of an incident, an efficient, fast, and precise withdrawal or recall system is needed.
What is the standard?
Traceability is a key item both in food legislation (e.g. EU Reg. 178/2002) and in the food safety standards (e.g. ISO 22000). The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides this technical standard to enable a harmonised approach to traceability systems in accordance with the available best practices. The standard for traceability in the feed and food chain, ISO 22005, provides general principles and basic requirements for system design and implementation.
Why is certification good for my business?
Food chain traceability certification makes individual company processes more visible and reliable, allowing you to communicate a message of trust and accountability. The standards provide a framework to establish an effective and flexible traceability system to meet different objectives, such as:
- Supporting food safety or quality objectives
- Documenting the history or origin of the product
- Facilitating withdrawal and/or recall of products
- Identifying responsible parties in the feed and food chain
- Facilitating verification of specific information about the product
- Communicating information to relevant stakeholders and consumers
How can I prepare for certification?
Traceability is a tool that should be coordinated within the context of broader food safety management. To design and implement an effective traceability system you have to define the traceability system objective(s), and determine the following:
- What information you need to obtain from your suppliers (and/or from the individual players in the coordinated food chain).
- What information you need to collect concerning the process history (in your own company and/or from the other individual players in the coordinated food chain).
- What information you need to provide to your customers (and/or to the individual players in the coordinated food chain).
The main planning process includes:
- Defining the product and/or the relevant ingredient(s)
- Defining the lot
- Identifying the lot
- Documenting the flow of materials, including the media for documentation
- Managing the data
- Retrieving the information for communication
This process entails managing detailed tracking and tracing reports on the flow of the raw material, the accountability of all parties involved in the process, and proof of application of a management system regime.