Commission publishes traceability guide

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Traceability Food

A new guide for EU processors on the bloc's traceability
requirements is designed to help industry comply with legal

Under EU law, "traceability" means the ability to track any food, feed, food-producing animal or substance that will be used for consumption, through all stages of production, processing and distribution.

The controls were made mandatory after past food crises, such as dioxin contamination and BSE, showed that the bloc need a system to respond quickly to such events.

The new fact sheet, released yesterday, emphasises that traceability is a risk-management tool that allows food business operators or authorities to withdraw or recall products which have been identified as unsafe.

"It is a cornerstone of the EU's food safety policy," the Commission stated.

The requirements fall under the EU's General Food Law, which entered into force in 2002 and makes traceability compulsory for all food and feed businesses.

It requires that all food and feed operators implement special traceability systems.

Businesses must be able to identify where their products have come from and where they are going.

Managers must be able to rapidly provide this information to regulators when asked.

The EU has also published guidelines that require businesses to document the names and addresses of the supplier and customer in each case, as well as the nature of the product and date of delivery.

Business are also encouraged to keep information on the volume or quantity of a product, the batch number if there is one, and a more detailed description of the product, such as whether it is raw or processed.

In addition to the general requirements, sector-specific traceability legislation applies to certain categories of food products such as fruit and vegetables, beef, fish, honey and olive oil.

The measures allow consumers to identify their origin and authenticity.

There are also special traceability rules for genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

These are designed to ensure that the GM content of a product can be traced.

The rules require accurate labelling so that consumers can make an informed choice.

In the case of animals, producers must now "tag" every one with details of their origin and, when animals are taken for slaughter, stamp them with the traceability code of the abattoir.

Related topics Food safety & quality

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