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Food Safety: The Importance of Lot Tracing in the Supply Chain

Lot tracing is invaluable in the supply chain process, so it is important to make sure your enterprise is doing it effectively. In today’s market, with new government restrictions, there is no longer any good excuse for companies to lack thorough batch or group traceability. Food safety and consumer health should be the top priority of food distributors.

What is lot tracing?

Lot tracing allows each piece of your inventory to be easily and quickly traced back to its group of origin. You can organize lot batches through the ingredients used in each product as well as by product expiration date. This is extremely useful in ensuring that food products do not spoil on your shelves and makes them easily identifiable for pulling batches if they do. These precautions can help you avoid a recall situation altogether.

Why is it important?


Unfortunately, recalls happen much too often in the food market. Meat, poultry, nuts, fruits and vegetables spoil. Sometimes ingredients are not properly marked on packaged food. Without the proper lot tracing methods, one human mistake is all it would take for inventory to spoil or a product to be returned or recalled. These recalls can be catastrophic for companies and brands.

Recall problems arise due to:

  • Software systems and manual processes used for managing food manufacturing processes
  • Separate programs for recipes, sales, and accounting
  • Paper-based systems for inventory and production
  • No effective way to create labels and manage expiration dates

More than half of recalls result in write-offs greater than 10 million dollars. Recalls also result in lingering consumer distrust of your brand. According to a survey by Deloitte Consulting, LLP., 60% of Americans avoid certain foods and brands that have been recalled in the past. This confirms that once consumer trust is lost, it is nearly impossible to regain it.

FDA Regulations

If that’s not enough to persuade you to invest in some highly effective lot tracing technology, consider the tightening of the FDA’s regulations regarding recalls. Full traceability isn’t just vital for your consumers’ health, it is also vital to your company’s well-being. In the event of a recall, all lot numbers affected must be reported to FDA offices within sixty minutes of the request.

Imagine, for a moment, that you do not have the proper lot tracing systems in place. Someone would have to search several systems and mountains of paperwork to cross-reference customer, product, and inventory management. Finding the necessary information would be an extremely painful and time-consuming process, one that would not be completed within the allotted sixty minutes.

Consequences of improper lot tracing

If your warehouse or packaging line does not have proper lot tracing methods in place during a recall, the supplier of the recalled product must recall everything nationwide. The FDA will also shut down your warehouse due to non-compliance and your company will be required to pay severe fines. Lack of preparation in recall situations has caused suppliers to go out of business.

Safeguard customer health and your company’s well-being

Guard your consumers’ health as well as your company’s reputation, pocket book, and business. Food safety is critical. The only fail-safe way that you can ensure that you will avoid and survive recall situations is by having the appropriate lot tracing methods in place. Integrating lot tracing capabilities into your warehouse management system will solve the problem for you.

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