Is your food traceability system effective?

Food Traceability refers to your ability to identify and follow raw materials, components and products through all stages of receipt, production, processing and distribution. It should operate one up (identifying who the raw materials have been bought from) and one down (which customers have received the finished product) and throughout the production process.

Welcome to Week 38 of the HACCP Mentor Food Safety HACCP Challenge. This week your challenge is to check that the food traceability system has been tested within the previous 12 months.

How to achieve this Challenge

Step 1: Refer to your Verification schedule and see if you actually have a food traceability activity documented.

Step 2: Check to see when was the last time that you completed a food traceability activity. You may have completed this activity as part of your mock recall (or in some circumstances, your real food recall).

Step 3: If you have completed a food traceability activity in the past 12 months – Excellent! If not, now is the time to complete this activity.

Step 4: If you have completed the activity, check to see that the test of food traceability was effective.

Effective food traceability

The food traceability system used by your food business should enable you to meet the legal requirements for tracing both finished food products and ingredients / raw materials. Consideration should be given to any requirements in the country of manufacture and the country of sale.  Your food traceability system must also be capable of identifying and tracing individual batches or lots of material at each step of the process.

The food traceability activity that you complete, needs to:

  • Be effective at all stages of production, processing and distribution by ensuring all batch/lot codes are recorded in a systematic way on all food products, containers and food production paperwork.
  • Include all raw materials, intermediates and final products including additives, processing aids and primary packaging.

Food traceability documentation

All documentation and records that you generate as part of your food traceability activity needs to clearly document the link between raw material and the final product. For example, there needs to be clear documentation showing the individual batches of raw materials used in the production of the specific batches of final product. So there should be a record of the batch code for each material used in each mix. The mix should then be given its own batch code, which can accompany it through the manufacturing process.  Traceability details must to be retained in a format that allows for easy and timely access of information. Generally, all food traceability information and documentation should available and retrievable within a four-hour period.

Food traceability failure

There can be many consequences to a food business when they are not able to adequately and effectively perform food traceability. The most common being an extended food recall with continuing publication and spotlight on your food business. Every delay you have in getting the food traceability information right – can leave a food product in the market place with the potential to harm more people.

Click here to Learn more about food traceability

Share your results

How did you go? Had you completed a food traceability activity in the past 12 months? Hand on heart – was it truly effective? Did you have all your records and documentation in order? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

1 thought on “Is your food traceability system effective?”

  1. Cert ID Europe Food

    Food Traceability in the supply chain is indeed becoming increasingly important. Especially in the UK and EU with the BRC Agents & Brokers standard becoming important- as per this news article anyway

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