Food Traceability revolves around food safety. Food safety is a growing concern for many reasons.
– Millions of people are affected by food poisoning each year
– Billions of dollars are lost in brand damages due to product recalls
The situation is getting worse. Rapidly growing industries and complex supply chains make food traceability a challenge. Food manufacturers are under constant pressure to make food safer.
Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about what they consume and want to know:
To meet these demands, food manufacturers must document all activities related to production. A process commonly referred to as food traceability.
This blog aims to give you an understanding of food traceability, how it works and which pitfalls to avoid.
Let’s start by addressing what food traceability is.
Food Traceability is the ability to track the production process from receiving raw ingredients to the packaging and distribution process.
A food traceability system is a system to help monitor food quality and safety at all production stages. Food traceability creates transparency and accountability across food manufacturing facilities.
As an example, let’s imagine we are a lemon pie manufacturer.
There are a few food safety certifications to help food manufacturers reach the highest standards of food quality. These include IFS, HACCP analysis, and ISO. By getting certified through these safety standards, you can ensure maximum human life and health protection.
There are two dimensions of food traceability. Chain traceability (tracing an ingredient one step back or one step forward in the supply chain) and Internal traceability (tracing the original raw ingredients through the stages of production).
Now that we know what food traceability is, let’s look at some challenges of working with food traceability in practice as consumer demands rise to meet the regulations. These new compliance demands put a massive strain on smaller food manufacturers still using pen and paper for documentation.
Listed below are six challenges food manufacturers face in managing a food traceability system.
The first and most common problem is documenting accurate batch numbers throughout production. Batch numbers need to be noted correctly on each document to trace back to the problem in case of a food recall. Issues arise when employees link documentation to incorrect batch numbers (due to typos), making it impossible to get a complete product overview.
Another common problem is ensuring that quality controls are performed and documented correctly. Paper controls are often compromised due to incorrect and inconsistent information. Questions are easy to skip. Lousy handwriting or liquid ruins make paper impossible to read. Errors in production are not detected in due time and are not resolved due to missing guidance.
Getting documentation approved and signed off by the right internal parties is labour-intensive and time-consuming. It typically involves different people and departments cross-checking the same document.
Employees must move from one workstation to another to get the document approved, resulting in internal misunderstandings and a waste of time.
Storing all documents related to a specific production batch is difficult on paper. All documentation must be linked to a particular batch number. Gathering all documentation in the supply chain, related to product traceability and food safety, takes time and leads to detective work for managers who spent much time finding out who did what and when.
Finding and tracking batch numbers on paper becomes a hassle in case of a food recall. Employees must search through several folders to find the proper documentation to rectify an error. If not detected, all products must be recalled. The lack of product traceability is an extremely costly affair, leading to lost sales and brand damage.
It is hard to detect and resolve problems in the production process using paper. The issues are often found too late, which makes it impossible to correct the problem in due time. A related issue is not having an overview of how the product is performing. Example:
The truth is that there is no silver bullet to overcome all the above-mentioned challenges overnight.
That being said, implementing a proper food traceability system can help you significantly save time on manual processes and reduce costs on labour-intensive activities.
Listed below are three core benefits of digitizing food safety documentation & product traceability.
By digitizing food traceability, you can ensure that all batch numbers are entered correctly and linked back to the right raw materials, using QR codes. This ensures that:
Digitizing existing checklists and paper recipes helps you make sure that all documentation is filled out in the correct format at the right time by the right people. The benefits of digitizing product traceability are:
Multiple parties are involved in approving quality documentation. A process that can include various departments. The benefits of digitizing the approval process are:
Flows is an all-in-one food traceability system that makes it easier for food manufacturers to meet collect supply chain documentation, avoid errors and limit product recalls.
Flows is a record-keeping system, that makes it easy to track products and ingredients in the supply chain. This makes the recall process straightforward and helps companies keep track of all activities related to their supply chain.
With Flows' traceability system, you can get a complete overview of each production process in the supply chain. How it was produced and what it was created with. With one search, you can find batch numbers and access full food traceability of your production. This makes it easier for you to meet regulatory compliance, identify root causes, and re-call faulty products.
The Flows food traceability platform helps you keep track of production batches and quality inspections in the supply chain. By gathering all the data in one platform, Flows helps you:
Find out why Flows is the most operator friendly
traceability software for you and your business