Book review

Traceability made easier

Related tags Traceability Food

A new book gives food industry managers an expert look at the legal
requirements on traceability and the strategies and tools available
to fulfill them.

With new food safety regulations and retailer mandates, traceability has become a hot topic in the industry. 'Improving Traceability in Food Processing and Distribution', published by Woodhead Publishing Ltd. in the UK, is a comprehensive guide to the state of play. It provides a ready reference for those charged with the task of implementing traceability systems throughout their business.

The book is divided into three sections, the first providing an overview of the issues involved, the second relating to the design of traceability systems. The third section deals with the technologies available on the market. Various chapters are written by different authors, each an expert in their areas.

Traceability systems may be paper based or structured to exploit the benefits of information and communications technologies, such as radio frequency identification, the book's authors note.

Traceability refers to the ability of processors, distributors and others to track products throughout the food supply chain, from point of origin to point of sale. The increasing requirements for traceability have arisen primarily from consumer and government concerns about food safety, hygiene and authenticity.

Pathogen control, the ability to make recalls quickly and to pinpoint the source of a food safety problem are major drivers behind traceability requirements.

The authors note that the EU-funded FoodTrace project could also provide some answers for food processors looking to meet traceability requirements as cheaply and as hassle free as possible.

FoodTrace is designed to establish a generic framework and set of standards through which the bloc's industry could harmonise their systems along the supply chain.

"The disparate nature of the technologies and the associated products present problems in interfacing different products to different software systems,"​ the authors note. "A common protocol to accommodate these differences is therefore seen as an essential requirement for optimising supply chain systems."

Another chapter discusses how traceability systems could serve the double duty of helping processors and others to make their supply chain, both inputs and outputs, more efficient.

They discuss FoodPrint, a model template designed as a systematic approach to analysing and designing traceability systems, while taking into account the business goals of the food company.

The chapter's author, Floor Verdenius from Wageningen University and Research Centre, considers FoodPrint as a tool for optimising the business performance of a company or a supply chain.

In the third chapter his colleague Frans-Peter Scheer discusses how a quality-oriented tracking and tracing system can be used to continuously control and manage the supply chain, resulting in business benefits.

Chapters four, five, six and seven deal with methods and problems associated with designing and building traceability systems. The last four chapters deal with the technical and technological aspects of traceability systems.

Traceability became compulsory under the EU's General Food Law from January 2005.

'Improving Traceability in Food Processing and Distribution'. Edited by Ian Smith and Anthony Furness. Woodhead Publishing; 258 pages. €165.

Related topics Food safety & quality

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