Understanding Food Traceability
Many industries have been using product traceability since the early 2000s to increase total quality. Today, legislators make traceability of products such as food mandatory, which has the potential to affect public health devastatingly. Recently, The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initiated a study on food traceability under FSMA. Likewise, Russia, addressing food traceability in the CRPT project, has implemented it for dairy products. Also, Australia has implemented an innovative traceability implementation (beef blockchain) covering all meat products with blockchain technology. Furthermore, food authorities of other countries define traceability as a necessity for products considered to be at-risk groups.
Soon, food production companies will need to adapt and operate their supply chains following the regulations prepared by legislators on food traceability. You can access the list of products that the FDA offers to comply with FSMA by clicking here. It is a large-scale digital transformation project for an enterprise to redesign and implement its supply chain according to food traceability requirements. In this article, we will try to explain how you can redesign an existing supply chain to meet traceability requirements.
Why Do We Need a Food Traceability System?
In recent years, there has been a large increase in product and raw material counterfeiting in the food industry. It no longer surprises us to hear news of food counterfeiting from all over the world every day. The threat posed by this increase seriously harms public health and the reliability of brands. Unfortunately, existing laws and preventive mechanisms are not enough to stop counterfeiting activities. Therefore, legislators have started drafting laws and regulations for the food industry, whose primary goal is to protect public health. Authorities are trying to prevent the following illegal activities by making traceability mandatory in the supply chain with these laws.
- Product counterfeiting
- Illegal labeling and manipulation
- Unfair competition
- Grey market activities
What are the Basic Concepts of Traceability?
We use traceability to track status information within the supply chain throughout the life cycle of a product. Status information consists of data such as where the product is located, under which environmental conditions it is stored and when it is transferred. However, GS1 organization, which prepares global standards on traceability, has based on “what, where, when, and why” information for status information by analyzing the common requirements of all markets. As a result, if a manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, or seller can answer “what, where, when, and why” questions for each saleable food product, it means that the traceability process has been completed.
Authorities can build country-level traceability systems on distributed or central information systems. While making this distinction, they take into consideration the commercial dynamics, security conditions, and market habits of the country. Whatever system they prefer, food traceability is the only tool to guarantee product and brand safety.
Serialization of Food Products
You need to identify the products to ensure food traceability. Although the identification of each product seems like a difficult operation at first glance, the existence of the pharmaceutical industry which can serialize all the products it produces is a good example.
The most practical method that can be used for serialization in the packaging processes of food products is the GS1 compliant Data Matrix code. This 2D barcode technology, which has high data storage capacity in a small area, has already proven its maturity in the pharmaceutical industry. You can apply a 2D barcode with many printing methods. This 2D barcode can identify each level of product packaging in an area of 10 x 10 mm. Please follow the link to examine the methods used to serialize food products.
How Can We Ensure Food Traceability in the Supply Chain?
Serialization is the first step in ensuring traceability. However, serializing foods does not mean they are also traceable. An accurate food traceability system should answer “what, where, when, and why” questions when the stakeholder or end-consumer questions the serialized product.
It is necessary to consider the processes under the headings of the internal and external supply chain to create a traceable supply chain.
A significant part of supply chain operations takes place within the company. It should be ensured that independent business units such as production, warehouse, and shipment can easily and reliably exchange data for traceable products. Existing ERP and MES software should be redesigned following traceability processes, and the mentioned systems should be integrated with serialization equipment.
To ensure traceability in this process, the dynamics of the target market must be carefully analyzed. Because the requirements of target market authorities will be different from each other. We have already mentioned that the implementations of traceability systems of countries can be central and distributed.
Below you can find brief descriptions of these systems.
Central Traceability System
In country-level practices, where the authority centrally manages traceability, stakeholders have specific roles. When stakeholders share traceability data of their roles with the central system, their responsibilities are terminated. Turkey, Brazil, Russia, and European Union countries have started to implement this type of traceability system for the pharmaceutical industry.
Distributed Traceability System
The authority sets the rule for traceability and motivates the market. In these systems, each stakeholder is responsible for traceability in their area of responsibility. From time to time, the authority may also set rules for establishing verification services for manufacturers for product verification. Traceability in the U.S. pharmaceutical market is this type of implementation. Blockchain implementations are gaining popularity day by day in distributed systems.
Specializing in traceability, VISIOTT is a technology company with a variety of products and industrial background that can provide added value to your projects. It designs and manufactures the serialization equipment needed in your food traceability projects according to the requirements of the food, industry. There are software solutions at Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4 that manage the traceability data of the equipment produced by VISIOTT. It also provides project management and consultancy, revision of quality certificates, and after-sales support activities from its structure without using any third-party suppliers.
To get to know VISIOTT’s end-to-end traceability solutions better and get information, you can contact our sales team by filling out the form below.