Objectives of traceability

Objectives of traceability

a cow with a bar code on it

Traceability is the ability to trace, follow and identify uniquely product units (batch, lot, consignment, etc.) through a defined supply chain or production operation. Traceability systems provide information on the history of a product and / or locate the product in the supply chain.

About traceability

  • Traceability is a legal requirement for food businesses, which should be established at all stages of production, processing and distribution. It is essential in situations where a product withdrawal or recall is required.
  • Traceability does not make food safe or ensure product quality; it is a management tool. Traceability can, however, help towards assuring food safety or quality by enabling an FBO to identify product units and put in place checks that safety or quality criteria have been met. It also enables necessary action to be taken if food is found or suspected to be non-conforming.
  • Traceability identifies the path from which a product has originated to whom it has been supplied, and consists of an inter-linking chain of records between steps in a process operation and/or between different stages in a food supply chain.
  • Most operations within the food supply chain cannot readily create traceability throughout the whole food supply chain, but each has a role to play in collecting and storing information about the raw materials, products and processes under their control.
  • Traceability is a widely used term and is one of those broad concepts, like quality, for which there are many different applications. There is no universally acceptable definition or system of traceability. It depends on many factors, not least the nature of the products and production operation to which traceability is applied. Traceability may also have different objectives, such as food safety, product identity and reliability of information provided.
  • Although legal requirements, international standards and private voluntary standards require traceability in one form or another none is prescriptive in the way traceability is to be achieved. This is not surprising as there are many options available and it is up to the business to define the scope of a traceability system and how it is to be achieved based on the nature of the product and production operation including size of the business.

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