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Lot traceability is a compliance requirement of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Lot tracking enables food and beverage companies to be in good standing with all players in the supply chain, including retailers and consumers. It helps enhance your ability to monitor and quickly respond to defects and hazards in the ingredients of a food product.

What is Lot Traceability?

Lot traceability in manufacturing refers to the tracking manufactured lots and batches from the production stage to the point of sale. In the food industry, the process leaves a trail audit that dramatically improves hazard and risk-based analyses, leading to effective containment and better quality control procedures

Lot Traceability Pros and Cons

The pros and cons of lot traceability are manifold. Let’s take a closer look.

Firstly, lot traceability is a proven strategy for attaining compliance with food safety regulations. It allows suppliers to prove that their foods are safe and free from potentially hazardous substances. This assists with product recalls, if necessary.

Traceability can also help curb illegalities in the supply chain, such as overfishing, child labor, or unethical/unsafe genetic engineering.

On the flip side, lot traceability can be a time-consuming process. Tracing of food from farm to fork requires immense resources that small businesses may not have.  Most of all, a major lot traceability con is that it can have a direct impact on imports and trade relations.

As per the ISO lot traceability standards (ISO 22005:2007), your traceability implementation strategy should enable:

  • Precise insights into tracking lots such as food ingredients and packaging
  • Identifying the necessary verifications and approvals
  • Streamlining coordination between different players 
  • Improving communication and transparency in the supply chain
  • Strengthening reliability of  monitoring data and its effectiveness on productivity

Choosing the Right Lot Traceability Software

The best lot traceability software such as ERP solutions should make it easy to document the production date, expiration date, and the end consumer. 

Inventory management software should help you see where food is coming from and verify that the conditions for its production and process are compliant to safety standards. Apart from considering technical features, you will also need to compare prices for inexpensive lot traceability software in the market to get the best deal.

Data consistency and reliability

The right food processing lot traceability system can track and trace products from the farm to the point of sale. It should provide search capabilities for all batch information. Data should be filtered based on customers, suppliers, or tasks. This information should be searchable based on transaction code, serial number, or lot code.

The software should also provide consistency and reliability in batch labeling and lot number traceability to minimize cases of confusion in the whole process.

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Helps meet FSMA requirements

The tracking software should readily produce data on and streamline the processes of hazard and risk-based analysis, protective controls implementation, and documentation. FSMA requirements are not to be taken lightly; you should be able to satisfy regulators that product recall capabilities are robust. 

It should be web-based, secure and user-friendly

Web-based lot tracing solutions are known for simplicity, efficiency, and accessibility. Your employees should easily access the information wherever they are, using a web browser. That helps to overcome the IT glitches associated with stand-alone solutions. The information should be fortressed with firewalls and access authorization controls.

Should support multiple data sources

Users should be able to upload data in any format manually or through tools such as barcode readers. The right software should also enable multiple user access and real-time interactivity with reports on lot batch traceability.

Change control features

You should be able to know any changes that occur to the product in the supply chain. The right lot traceability software gives you an easy to follow audit trail to mitigate risks that arise from changes in production, blending, packing, and transportation.

The system should also control permissions through e-signatures to effortlessly enforce personnel compliance. Privileges should be distinct between the individuals creating sales and purchase orders and those that approve these transactions.

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Shelf-life Management

An ideal lot tracking software makes it possible to manage product expiration dates.  It should streamline the procedures for removing expired products from store shelves or recalling them from customers and the supply chain. 

Like SAP lot traceability solutions, your software tool should help to track the minimum shelf life of the goods entering your warehouse.

From storage, the solution should provide reliable information on the minimum remaining shelf life before the product goes into processing. 

Quality tracking capabilities

The lot tracking software should have quality monitoring capabilities for raw materials delivered and the processes that follow.  It should enable barcode and serial number labeling and tracking as per lot traceability ISO 13485 standards.

  • Suppliers should be able to trace raw materials from the fields
  • The software should enable proper documentation for lots of raw materials and ingredients
  • Should streamline Inventory management for all finished goods
  • It should enable compliance with FSMA packaging requirement lot traceability
  • The software should enable verification of compliant shipping

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Supplier compliance tracking and reporting features

The right lot traceability software provides robust features for supplier performance tracking and reporting. The metrics to track here, apart from safety controls, could include costs, turnaround time and sustainability in processes. Through scored cards and supplier lists, such a solution should make supplier verification an expedient and accurate undertaking.

Return material authorization features

Returned items are probably defective or substandard. A tracking and management system is needed for these items so that they don’t get lost in the broader stock. The best lot monitoring solution should enable you to quickly process customer returns and the corrective actions needed for the goods.

You should be able to automate the application process, share tracking information with customers, and streamline the approval, quarantine, and quality assurance processes.

The challenge

Mishaps can occur anywhere in the supply chain, from farm to store or anywhere in between. Slow or broken responses in lot control and traceability can be costly to your business, and even lethal to the consumers. You need an inexpensive lot traceability software that enables multidirectional traceability, backwards and forwards. That entails monitoring food products through all the stages of production, processing, and distribution.

IFS ERP is the best-in-class food lot traceability system in the industry. It’s built for compliance and scalability and is agile to the changing needs of the market. Just like SAP batch lot traceability, the IFS ERP software provides reliability in:

  • Batch lot traceability in supply chain
  • Change control
  • Shelf-life management
  • Inventory management
  • Recipe management
  • Supplier verification
  • Standardization, integration, and optimization of business processes

 

Lot tracking is a critical component for achieving FDA FSMA compliance. The right lot tracking solution needs to be user-friendly, secure and packed with accurate monitoring and reporting features. It should also help with compliance and improve your overall business operations.