Traceability and international standards

Traceability and international standards

Production line in a food factory. Ravioli preparation

In a food business operation traceability may be managed as part of a formal business management system, such as the management system attributes specified in standards set by the International Standards Organisation (ISO). These standards, which are good practice standards and not legally enforceable, include provisions in relation to product identity and traceability.

Managing traceability

In a food business operation traceability may be managed as part of a formal business management system, for example, the international series of standards for Quality System Management (the ISO 9000 series) and food safety (the ISO 22000 series).

ISO 9001: 2008 specifies management system attributes including the production and service provisions requirements for identification and traceability of product. This states that, where appropriate, the organisation shall identify product by suitable means throughout product realisation and, where traceability is a requirement, the organisation shall control the unique identification of the product and maintain records.

ISO 22000

Traceability is also a constituent part of ISO 22000 standard (food safety management systems – requirements for an organisation in the food chain). ISO 22000: 2005 specifies requirements for a food safety management system where an organisation in the food chain needs to demonstrate its ability to control food safety hazards in order to ensure food is safe at the time of human consumption.

There is a specific requirement for traceability in the ISO 22000 standard. This covers the establishment and application of a traceability system that enables the identification of product lots and their relation to batches of raw materials, processing and delivery records. This implies a combination of the one down/one up approach (external traceability) plus process internal traceability.

These standards suggest that in developing a traceability system consideration should be given to:

  • The activities that might impact on system complexity such as types and number of raw materials re-use of product, batch versus continuous production and aggregation.
  • The extent of the traceability system to identify any potentially unsafe products that may need to be withdrawn or recalled.