Traceability in food and feed supply chain

Traceability in food and feed supply chain

Chefs preparing frozen meals

All food businesses in the food and feed supply chain in the EU (farm or import to market) are subject to the same requirements for traceability, that is the one step back - one step forward approach in respect of supplier and customer traceability, and appropriate record keeping. There is no requirement for internal traceability.

The food supply chain

The food supply chain is a series of separate operations or businesses in sequence (farm to market), each linked by the products supplied to them from the preceding operation (the one step back) and the products they supply to the next operation (the one step forward). Each operator in the chain is responsible for the operation under their control and records information which in turn links their operations to the preceding and proceeding stages in the chain.

The three key stages in the food supply chain are primary production and retail (the chain start and end points) and the intermediary business operations. The requirements for traceability at all stages are the same, that is:

  • identify their suppliers of food, food producing animals and any other substances intended or expected to be incorporated in food;
  • identify the businesses to which they have supplied products; and
  • produce this information to the competent authorities on demand.

Whilst this applies to all food and feed businesses there are some specific points relating to primary producers and retailers (the chain start and end points).

Primary producers

Primary producers are required to:

  • Identify their suppliers of substances intended or expected to be included in food. This will include inputs such as animal feed, veterinary medicines, seeds, pesticides and fertilisers.
  • Identify the businesses to which they have supplied products. Products in this case include harvested crop products such as cereal grains and fresh fruit and vegetables, products of animal origin such as eggs and milk, and live animals supplied for eventual food use.

Food retailers

Food retailers, e.g. shops, supermarkets, restaurants and catering establishments, on the other hand are not required to keep records of sales to the final consumer, since consumers are not food businesses. Where a retailer knows that it is supplying to another food business, for example a catering outlet, traceability requirements should be met. Restaurants and caterers will need to keep traceability records of inputs, but are not be required to keep records of supplies to the final customer.