Foods shipped and stored without proper environmental conditions in the supply chain have a devastating effect on public health. Therefore, the most common method used in recent years to prevent this devastation is to redesign the supply chain by traceability technologies. The most important change factor of this redesign is the serialization of food products. In this article, we will try to explain practical solutions related to the food serialization process.
Food Serialization Methodologies
Let's Understand Food Serialization
Serialization can be defined as assigning a unique serial number to each product produced and implementing this number on the packaging with various methods. The most popular, economical, and sustainable implementation method is to apply a 2D code onto packaging. The most important example of this method is the successful serialization implementation of the pharmaceutical industry.
However, the packaging used in the food industry is very different from each other due to the nature of the products and the habits of the consumers. Therefore, in the food serialization process there may be difficulties in the application and verification of the 2D code on the packaging. We have tried to list below the challenges you may face in the food serialization process.
- Wet or damp packaging during production
- Glossy and wrinkled packaging material
- High production rates
- Lack of suitable printing area on the packaging
2D Code’s Data Structure
The data structure that you can use when serializing a product is unlimited. However, this doesn’t mean that you can apply every data structure to the product. Because the legislators of the market you are targeting determine the structure that needs to be followed while serializing. Legislators, on the other hand, usually use the data structure defined by the GS1 organization in their regulations.
GS1 is a global non-profit organization. They have become popular with the solutions they brought to the problems experienced in barcoding standards with the widespread of global trade. GS1 has also prepared effective and applicable standards for traceability and opened them to the use of global trade.
Please follow this link for detailed descriptions of GS1 on traceability.
The key point of food serialization is that there are different key areas on each product of the same type. This key data is also expressed in GS1 Standards (21).
An example of a primitive food serialization that doesn’t meet any standard:
A company produces tomato paste in 200 g cans.
Production of 10 cans of 200 g Tomato Paste dated 01.01.2020
- 10 non-repeating numbers are applied to each tomato paste can with labels.
Serial Numbers: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
If this company continues to apply by increasing the serial numbers it has created starting from 1 in the production of 200 g can of tomato paste after 01.01.2020, it will succeed in food serialization.
An example of food serialization in accordance with GS1 standards:
A company produces tomato paste in 200 g cans. This company has the code 08681986060015 GLN (Global Location Number) provided by the GS1 organization. They decided to use the code 08681986060xxx for 200 g tomato paste.
Production of 10 cans of 200 g Tomato Paste dated 01.01.2020
- The unique GS1 Datamatrix label is applied to each tomato paste can by thermal transfer during the production phase.
Serial Numbers : 100500001,100500002, 100500003, 100500004, 100500005, 100500006, 100500007, 100500008, 100500009, 100500010
Production Date: 200101
Expiration Date: 250101
If this company applies a unique GS1 Datamatrix to labels as they pass the production line in the production of 200 g can of tomato paste after 01.01.2020, it will succeed in serialization.
2D Code Verification
If you want to make an effective and efficient food serialization, only applying GS1 Datamatrix on the packaging will not be enough. You also need to control whether the implemented code is correct within the standards. Because 2D codes are capable of containing large information in a small space of 10 x 10 mm. Verification ensures that 2D code can be easily resolved within the supply chain. Unverified products must be separated from the line, and if there is a low frequency verification problem, the line must be stopped instead of the rejection operation.
You can access further technical information about GS1 Datamatrix verification by clicking on this link.
Most Popular GS1 Datamatrix Application Methods for Food Industry
The food industry uses many packaging materials, taking into account the needs of target markets and consumer habits. Below, we tried to explain the technologies developed for the application of GS1 Datamatrix to the packaging briefly.
It is the technology that directly prints the packaging material by applying heat to a carbon film.
Developed by HP, this method has the same technology as inkjet printers used in our home. This system, which has a low operating cost, gives successful results on surfaces such as paper, labels and cardboard for food serialization.
This system is a conventional solvent-based inkjet system. There is a speed limit for GS1 Datamatrix for applications that carry high data. This system, which does not distinguish the printing surface, is like a lifebuoy in some food serialization applications.
This technology gives good results on surfaces such as labels and cardboard. This system, which has low maintenance and consumables costs, can only work in special protective areas.
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 also designs and manufactures the serialization equipment needed in your traceability projects according to the requirements of the pharmaceutical, food, cosmetic and explosive industries. 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 own 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.