Food product traceability and why is it so important?

Food Product Traceability - Complete Guide

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With the global supply chain for food products getting increasingly complex, there are multiple concerns over food safety. When food safety incidents occur, it’s not only public safety that’s at stake but also business reputation and public relations. 

What’s more, food safety regulations are getting tighter and product traceability is one of the many mandatory compliance requirements.

Food product traceability and why it’s so important

Food product traceability involves tracking the path that food takes through the supply chain to improve public safety.

Traceability solutions guarantee that suppliers are compliant with food safety measures and also provides an internal inventory management system that will increase efficiencies. 

Product Recalls are costly

One incident involving food safety and quality could be enough to sink a thriving business. 

In the US, 52 % of food recalls cost more than $10 million, while 23 % of these recalls cost over $30 million, according to data by the Grocery Manufacturers Association.  To that effect, quality assurance is a factor that all food business owners should be aware of.

Traceability of product, though a seemingly burdensome enforcement, is what you need to keep your business alive.

Recalls are increasing by the day

There are reasons to worry about the grim financial implications of food recalls. That’s because as product traceability requirements tighten due to legislation such as the Food Safety Modernization Act and global supply chains expand, the number of food recalls has increased significantly. 

The Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) reported that food recalls increased by 10% between 2013 and 2018. A comprehensive HACCP plan and product traceability program can help identify and minimize the risk of contamination and defective products in your supply chain, and shield your business from the recall losses.

New threats in the globalized food supply chain need accurate traceability

FDA product traceability comes down to knowing the origin of all of your fresh produce before it gets to you and after it is shipped from you to the consumer. The rising cases of public health concerns demand that all businesses in the food industry tighten oversight. 

In the current global food supply chains, companies and consumers are faced with new threats including:

  • The rise of foodborne diseases from Salmonella to Vibrio parahaemolyticus and others; the CDC reports that close to 48 million people in the US contract a foodborne illness every year
  • A higher number of fraudulent activities and fake products in the food chain; food fraud costs $49 billion globally
  • There are increased imports of raw materials from countries with lax safety standards

All these food safety and supply chain concerns have led to an increased demand for proof of FSMA compliance. The industry is ailing economically from the increased losses due to these threats. There is similarly a surging level of distrust in the food supply chain among consumers.

How Food Traceability Can Help

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How Food Traceability Can Help

1. Makes it possible to attain food safety

Traceability allows you to effect corrective measures (such as recalls) quickly before the damage is done. When food safety risk is identified, a comprehensive traceability system will help to isolate the incidence and prevent the affected products from reaching consumers. 

However, before it even gets to food safety incident response, the right product traceability technology such as IFS should help you minimize contamination risks from farm to consumer.

2. Evidence of food safety compliance

The right statistical traceability process also serves as evidence of food safety compliance. Importers need traceability to confidently prove compliance with FSMA and reduce the risk of unwarranted fines or recalls. 

When you have the entire supply chain mapped out in your traceability system, enforcing food safety in your operations and mitigating risks gives you a high degree of visibility. 

3. Visibility sheds light on food fraud

Food fraud is as important for businesses as it is for consumers. Traceability food product leads to transparency in the food supply chain, making it easier to identify illegal activities and eliminate them. 

With food traceability, your business gets to trade in a food chain where the farmer gets just wages, for instance, or where there is no child labor involved, and there is use of sustainable practices. 

4. Real-time monitoring is good for business

The right food traceability system can help your business have complete oversight and real-time visibility of its food items. The process involves recording, verification, and monitoring the entire history of a food item through the supply chain.  Should issues arise in the chain, your centralized monitoring system will help identify the food safety risk, its origin, and the right mitigation measures.

Food safety Regulations Demand Food Traceability

One major part of food safety compliance regulations is traceability. There are two regulations which outline these requirements, namely the Bioterrorism Act 2002 and the Food Safety Modernization Act 2011.

Both these laws demand that food facilities and businesses should register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). You then have to show evidence of a process that monitors the entire movement of food products. That entails tracking and tracing of product quality from farm to table.

Under these laws, the FDA can initiate a recall if there is evidence that your products pose a significant health risk to people and animals. You will also be liable for hefty fines and might even lose your license or face imprisonment if there are fatalities as a result of non-compliance.

How to Manage Food Traceability Efficiently and Cost-effectively

Traceability, as you know by now, monitors the movement of foods throughout production, processing, and distribution. The food product traceability procedure involves tracking and tracing. The tracing aspect looks at the history of the product and how it has been handled. 

Tracking follows the movement of the food item to the final destination. Best practice product traceability needs a robust integrated system for increased oversight and visibility in your processes.

Automating food traceability with an Enterprise Resource Planning system simplifies the tracking and tracing processes. An ERP system like IFS grants you an opportunity to centralize and execute all your business operations from one system. From the same dashboard, you will be able to oversee where the food is coming from, how it is handled in your facility, and how it gets to consumers.

The right food product traceability software should help you meet the demands of an increasingly complex food chain. Automation will facilitate a seamless process to traceability food products. You will have flawless standardization in product processing and distribution and adequate diagnosis and resolution of safety concerns.

Components of Food Traceability Automation

Data capture 

The right software should help you harvest and synchronize data from QR code scanners, RFID tags, and readers to achieve traceability in product labeling and lot numbers.

Customization and collaborative interface

Data should be customized and availed on shared dashboards together with real-time alerts for all players in the supply chain to easily track and trace products.

End to end supply chain visibility

You should have complete visibility across your supply chain, combined with the ability to record, document, and link with master data systems and compliance databases. Food ERP software solutions are the best to tackle the food industry. 

The IFS product traceability system ensures that your food traceability is verifiable, consistent, cost effective, and results-oriented. Request a demonstration to learn more.


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