Food samples traceability

How to account for food samples in your traceability system

    To ensure complete traceability, food samples need to be considered as part of this process. Is this something that you have previously considered? Read on to find out the different types of food samples that would need to be considered by your food business when completing food traceability and determining mass balance.

    Food Traceability 101

    Before we jump into the ‘how-to’ it is useful to recap on the basics of food traceability and why, as a food business, we need to be able to trace our products.

    Traceability is the ability to track any food through all stages of production, processing and distribution (including importation and at retail).  An effective traceability system relies on being able to track product one step forward and one step back at any point in the supply chain.

    Traceability allows food businesses to target the product(s) during a food recall that are affected by a food safety problem, minimising disruption to trade and any potential public health risks. It is important for all food businesses (including retailers and importers) to be able to trace products.

    Examples of Food Samples

    There are several areas in your food business where food samples can be taken. Make sure that you consider each of the following examples as part of your food traceability procedures.

    In-process testing – Your business may have different safety or quality tests that are performed during the manufacturing process. For example, water activity, pH, milk solids, moisture, protein, presence of allergens.

    Retention samples – These food samples are kept after production has finished and are generally held for the shelf-life of the product.

    Finished product testing or analysis – This could be testing by internal or external laboratories. Testing could relate to microbiological, chemical, physical or quality attributes.

    Trade shows / marketing – These food samples are generally offered as part of the sales and marketing process. They could be as part of a product promotion initiative.

    Mass balance

    An effective food traceability system will also need to incorporate mass balance. Mass balance in relationship to food production can be defined as being the ability to account for all quantities of raw materials through to the finished product. The quantity of any food samples taken from a production will need to be considered.

    Recording Food Sample Traceability

    The easiest way to record food sample traceability is to develop and implement a food sample register. Make sure you include the type of sample, quantity and any relevant traceability information eg. Expiry dates, batch codes

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