September is National Food Safety Month — making it the perfect time to discuss three primary ways efficient traceability in your supply chain can ensure food safety. Efficient traceability can assist with: controlling human error, employing software systems, and understanding food quality standards.
So far in 2015, U.S. food companies have recalled approximately 500 different FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service)-and FDA-regulated food products for food safety, quality, and even labeling issues. Current practice at many companies involves recording the lot numbers of the products by hand and entering them into spreadsheets — which could result in a number of human errors.
If a recall occurs, a company must provide this information within 24 hours. A digital reporting system can trace back where a contaminated batch came from, thus saving time and money for a company that may not be able to recover financially.
Situations like this demonstrate why using software systems to control a company’s supply chain can be so beneficial. Software systems can print information onto barcode labels, for example, lot numbers, nutrition, and unique IDs. This information is automatically entered into a database. They can provide compliance labels that are within GS1 standards. With the proper software working, you can ensure lot numbers are being recorded accurately and timely.
A recent international recall for cucumbers was traced to a Salmonella outbreak in Mexico. According to the 2001 Bioterrorism Act, as of Dec. 11, 2006, food processors are required to be able to identify the origin of all food received by lot, code or other identifier and provide the same information when releasing products.
The Act applies to both foreign and domestic food, including all ingredients. Civil and criminal actions can be taken if information is not provided upon request to the FDA within 24 hours. Traceability allows for complete accountability that all quality standards are met, no matter where they are imported from.
In essence, a good traceability system is a great way to save money and even time. Who wants to dig for lot numbers and paperwork? A reliable traceability system benefits both low-risk and high-risk food producers. With a proper digital reporting system, a consultant will work with a company to set up a reporting process and provide ongoing education, training, and support.From farm to fork, the label can provide a story of where the product started and ended.
Find out how Lowry Solutions’ Packaging Execution System (PES) can increase the efficiency of your supply chain: