Tracking food from farm to table is crucial for keeping our food safe and healthy. This is called food traceability. It helps both shoppers and government officials follow the journey of food from where it’s grown or raised to when it’s ready to eat. This article will discuss why food traceability is important, how it works in the food industry, and the new tools that make it easier to track food.
Why is food traceability important?
Food traceability means tracking the origin and journey of food and beverage products. It’s a regulated practice applied within each supply chain ecosystem that is important to for several reasons:
- It keeps consumers safe from dangerous food. By providing access to information about the product’s batch, provenance, processing and handling. This way consumers make informed choices and avoid potentially harmful products. The ability to swiftly identify and recall contaminated or unsafe products is a major advantage, ultimately safeguarding public health.
- Enhances accountability within the food industry. It holds producers, manufacturers and distributors accountable for putting the right information and managing the product in a safe way. This is not only essential for public safety, but also encourages ethical and sustainable practices, thus fostering a healthier traceability in food supply chain.
- Reducing food waste. By facilitating the identification of spoiled or contaminated products, traceability management platforms like Deply helps prevent the unnecessary disposal of safe products and promotes more efficient food distribution. This reduction in food waste aligns with the principles of a circular economy, which aims to minimize waste and make more efficient use of resources.
How is “traceability” applied in the food industry?
Traceability in the food industry is a systematic approach to documenting and monitoring the food products journey throughout the supply chain. This process involves the recording of comprehensive data during every step of the process, from soil preparation and cultivation, to production, processing and retail distribution.
Food traceability programs are designed to track every product back to its source. This allows for a quick response whereas any contamination issues are detected, recalls need to be conducted, or when additional safety measures need to be implemented.
Digital innovations have significantly improved this process. Supply Chain Management platforms based on new technologies like Deply generate blockchain-based QR codes, disclosing all legally-required information about the products’ traceability and sustainability, and compelling stories about its journey from farm-to-table. Such digital traceability solutions enhance food safety for consumers through streamlined information management and seamless data sharing across the supply chain network. Many companies producing agricultural products like rice, wheat, cotton ecc. are implementing innovative tools for end-to-end traceability like blockchain and IoTs and predictive agriculture through smart data analytics aimed to optimize costs, reduce risks and streamline revenue.
What is an example of food traceability?
A prominent example of food traceability can be found in the seafood industry, adopting traceability food systems to ensure the safety and sustainability of its products. In this context, “farm to fork traceability” is a prevalent concept. It means that every step of the journey, from the fishing vessel to the consumer’s plate, is meticulously recorded.
For instance, let’s consider a scenario involving fish in the food industry. A seafood company utilizes technology to document the catch location, time, and methods. Once the fish are processed, the system records the manufacturing and packaging details. This information is aggregated in a QR code on the packaging, allowing consumers to access a wealth of information, such as the fish’s origin, handling, and even the sustainability practices employed during its production. The advancements in technology, such as QR codes and blockchain food traceability, have significantly streamlined the traceability process.
What is the EU food traceability law?
The European Union (EU) recognizes the importance of food traceability and has implemented regulations to oversee it. One such regulation is the EU’s Food Information to Consumers (FIC) legislation, which stipulates comprehensive traceability requirements for food and beverage products.
Under the FIC law, food manufacturers are required to furnish detailed information on product labels, encompassing ingredients, allergens, and nutritional values. This not only simplifies consumers’ ability to make informed choices but also bolsters safety measures. In a similar vein, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States plays a comparable role in regulating the food industry.
The EU’s emphasis on food traceability harmonizes with its broader vision of fostering sustainable agriculture practices and promoting a circular economy. Some examples applied to beef production could be:
- rotational grazing technique to improve soil health, increase forage production, and reduce the need for supplemental feed .
- carbon sequestration by grazing cattle, which can mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with beef production.
Food traceability has become an indispensable tool in the food industry, safeguarding consumer health, promoting accountability, and reducing carbon footprint.
In a world where food safety, quality, and sustainability are top priorities, food traceability emerges as an indispensable tool for a better food future. With awareness of the origin and impact of the food products we purchase, we can contribute to a safer, more transparent, and environmentally-friendly supply chain.