End-to-end traceability in the food supply chain can do more than safeguard against potential disasters, particularly at the processing stage. Geoff Furniss, head of BBC Technologies within TOMRA, explains how.
Every step of the food supply chain, from farm to table, is under pressure to improve traceability. Regulators, retailers and consumers increasingly demand traceability, and by helping to prevent food scandals, brand reputations can depend on it. But there’s more to this story than meets the eye.
The Food Safety Factor
It is widely understood that traceability is important for food safety, but less well known that traceability can also help food producers and processors improve profitability. At this stage in the supply chain, sorting machines – important for ensuring traceability, food quality, and food safety – can also help reduce food waste, analyze yield, and optimize operating efficiencies. Moreover, sorting technologies can help food producers and processors win business by ensuring that their products attain a quality standard appealing to retailers.
The core need for traceability is trust. Just think of food-related news headlines in recent years: melamine in dairy products, salmonella in peanut butter, wood pulp bulking-out parmesan cheese, horsemeat passing as beef, E.Coli bacteria in romaine lettuce, listeria bacteria found inside an apple processing plant, and so many other scandals too. Bad news spreads far and fast, amplified by consumers on social media, and shoppers come to regard food suppliers with suspicion.
Whether these scandals are caused through fraud or by accident, higher levels of traceability in the food supply chain would prevent many from ever happening. If food scandals do occur, traceability can make it easier to track down the sources of contamination or adulteration. In the case of E. Coli in romaine lettuce, for example, the cause was quickly found to be water in a canal in Arizona, but it was impossible to traceback all affected products because bagged salads contained ingredients from multiple ranches and their records of origin were not thorough enough. More detailed and standardized record-keeping is essential.
To read the complete article, please refer to the May-June 2019 print issue of Frozen Food Magazine Europe.