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Food Traceability: Bakery Supply Chain

Part 3 in our blog series on Food Traceability is from Tejas Bhatt, one of our guest speakers at our Food Traceability Summit that is taking place right here in Brighton, Michigan on August 19th. The original source is from “A Guidance Document on The Best Practices in Food Traceability, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, Vol. 13, pp. 1074-1103 by Jianrong Zhang and Tejas Bhatt”. We are breaking down the document into different blogs leading up to the event. This section talks about other food regulations in different parts of the world. If you missed part two, you can find the link here.

Supply chain

As described below, the bakery industry can be described in many different ways, either by the type of products made, their position along the value chain, or customer segment.

Bakery products can be found in the following forms:

  •  Dry mixes or kits
  •  Fillings, Icings
  •  Pastries, Croissants, Sweet rolls
  •  Bread, Buns, Rolls (for example, French breads)
  •  Crackers
  •  Cookies, Bars
  •  Cakes, Cupcakes
  •  Tarts, Pies
  •  Biscuits, Scones, Muffins

The products can be found at one or more of the following positions in the value chain:

  •  Ingredients (domestic and imported)
  •  Mixes, Kits
  •  Ready-to-bake (that is, batter/dough)
  •  Ready-to-use (that is, filling/icing)
  •  Ready-to-serve
  •  Retail self-serve bulk
  •  Retail prepackaged
  •  Thaw and serve

The bakery industry services the following customer segments (see Figure 1):

  •  Industrial
  •  Food service
  •  Retail bakery
  •  In-store bakery
  •  Retail self-serve bulk
  •  Retail prepackaged
  •  Outlets (thrift stores, animal feed, food bank/donations)
  •  Vending machines

The bakery industry has a supply chain that is similar to other food industry segments, although with some unique challenges. A simplified process flow for the bakery industry supply chain is shown here.

Bakery Supply Chain

Raw material harvesting and/or processing.

Bakery products typically contain a combination of agricultural components (for example, flour, sugar, fruit, dairy products, eggs, nuts, and spices) and non-agricultural components (for example, leavening agents, salt, flavorings, colors, emulsifiers, preservatives,primary and secondary packaging, flour treatment agents, and flour enrichments). Traceability during the production of nonagricultural components is fairly straightforward, as follows:

  •  Identify previous source of raw materials
  •  For raw material imports of agricultural and nonagricultural goods, record identity of event owner’s country of origin
  •  Record lot codes and quantities of ingredients received; and tie those ingredient lot codes to where they were used in production
  •  Record lot codes of finished product packaging
  •  Record quantities and lot codes of ingredients discarded
  •  Record lot codes of finished products
  •  Record lot code and quantity shipped to next recipient
  •  For transports of bulk and nonbulk items, record the trailer or rail car information. For bulk items, the vessel is the direct contact packaging item to deliver it to the next customer.

However, for agricultural components, traceability is more complicated than this. Ideally, all components would be able to be traced back to the field, orchard, flock, or herd. Nuts and fruits are shipped from orchards to accumulating locations, where they are comingled in a container, silo, or shipping vessel. Traceability typically is not maintained from the growers. Similar issues occur with other agricultural products.

Flour, sugar, and oil are major components in bakery products. For high-volume industrial bakeries, these ingredients are typically received by bulk tanker or rail car and stored at the bakery in bulk silo or tank systems. The silo or tank systems are emptied infrequently, if at all; thus, comingling of lot codes occurs in the silos. Each time an ingredient is drawn from the silo, a mixture of lot codes is removed. If a food safety issue were to occur with one of the lots, all products made after that lot was introduced into the silo could be implicated.




CTEs for raw material harvesting and/or processing include Harvesting, Discarding damaged or spoiled materials, Shipping and Receiving agricultural and nonagricultural components, processing components into raw materials, and Shipping finished raw materials. KDEs include Quantities and Lots at each CTE, Previous source, and Subsequent recipient. More information and examples of generic CTEs and KDEs are provided in the Section “Background.”

Raw material receiving and storage. Before a raw material is received into a manufacturing facility, the shipment’s content, quantity, and lot codes should be verified against the shipping documents, typically the BOL, invoice, or packing slip. (Three other pieces of information from the shipper would be the carrier’s name and emergency contact information and how the product was packaged, 50 pound bags, 25 pound boxes, and so on. This was specifically called out in the Bioterrorism Act under section 306 and has updated the FD&C Act to require this information.) If there are discrepancies, the shipment should be rejected. Receipt of raw materials is a CTE for this step in the supply chain.

Once a shipment is received, the raw materials should be affixed with an identifying label that includes a code name and/or number, possibly a pallet identifier, received date, discard date, lot code, allergen content status, and, when needed, the storage requirements (for example, refrigerated, frozen, or ambient). The product identification number and quantity for each lot code received should be recorded in a receiving log, which may be paper or electronic, a KDE for this step in the supply chain.

Storage procedures vary in sophistication, depending on whether or not the facility has an electronic warehouse management system (WMS). With a manual system, raw materials may or may not have designated storage slots. Allergens should be taken into account, through the use of written standard operation procedures (SOPs), when determining where to store raw materials so that cross-contact does not occur. Raw materials should be arranged in a manner that allows for first in–first out (FIFO) or first expired–first out (FEFO) stock rotation. When raw materials are moved to staging for production, a best practice would be to record the lot codes and quantity moved so that all locations of the lot can be tracked. This record would be a KDE.

With an electronic WMS, each pallet or container is typically given a barcode label that includes complete information on the identity of the material, the lot code, any allergen content, and the quantity present. This barcode enables tracking of the material throughout the facility. The WMS will assign a storage slot for that particular pallet or container based on established put-away rules. The put-away rules include information on allergen content, temperature requirements, shelf-life, and stock rotation rules for that particular item. As a package of raw material is removed from storage for staging for manufacturing, the barcode will be scanned, and the traceability data will be recorded electronically. Such data are a KDE.

Manufacturing usage. When an ingredient or primary packaging material is received on the manufacturing floor, a CTE should be verification of the quantity and lots received against the issuing document. Any discrepancies should be immediately addressed and no further action will be taken until the traceability discrepancy is resolved. A best practice would be to only issue to the manufacturing floor the exact quantity of ingredients needed to complete the scheduled production run. This will decrease the quantity of returns that must be accounted for at the end of the production run.

As the manufacturing process consumes the primary packaging components or ingredients, a CTE is the recording of specific lots used in each batch of premix, work in progress, or finished product. Rework must be lot-coded and treated the same as any ingredient for traceability purposes. If the facility is unable to match the ingredient or primary packaging component to a specific batch, then at a minimum the manufacturer must tie all raw material lot codes to a specific lot of finished product. A CTE that must be performed at the completion of the production run is to account for shrink (loss of product during processing), the quantity of finished goods produced, and the quantity of raw materials that will be returned back to the warehouse.

Transfer from manufacturing to a warehouse. Depending on the type of bakery, the warehouse may be internal, or a client’s warehouse; in the case of a fresh bakery, the finished goods may be shipped straight to an in-store bakery or retail store.

When shipping to an internal warehouse, a KDE is the recording of the lot code and quantity of the pallets shipped. If a WMS system is in place, a barcode will be placed on each pallet identifying the license plate of the vehicle, lot code, product, and the quantity of cases on the pallet. When received by the warehouse, a CTE is verification of the count on each pallet and the lot code against what was stated by manufacturing. If a company has a WMS system, the KDE of recording the location slots will be performed by the WMS program to enforce FIFO or FEFO and other putaway rules. If there is no WMS system, the KDE for recording the location slots and quantity of each pallet must be performed manually, either through electronic or paper means, to ensure FIFO or FEFO is followed. Product will be warehoused until ready for staging for shipping.

If the warehouse belongs to a client or if the finished goods are shipped straight to an in-store bakery or retail store, then customer requirements for shipping should be followed.

Shipping. When a PO has been placed, the warehouse is notified of the needed quantity to fulfill the order. If a WMS system is in place, it indicates to the warehouse team which pallets must be pulled to satisfy FIFO or FEFO requirements. If the system is manual, care is taken to ensure FIFO or FEFO is followed. A KDE for staging of the order is to record the quantity of each lot pulled to fulfill the order. Once sufficient product is pulled to fulfill the requirements of the PO, a CTE is to verify the lot code and count of each pallet prior to placing onto the shipping vessel. If a WMS system is used, the pallets are scanned into the system against a PO, and the pallet count and lot code is connected to the next recipient in the food chain. If the system is manual, this same information must be recorded. A CTE is the generation of an invoice that reports the name and address of the next recipient, the quantity ordered, the quantity shipped, and all associated lot codes.

The carrier company name and emergency contact information should also be recorded as part of the shipping information; how the products are packaged (for example, individually wrapped 12 boxes per case) should also be recorded.

Receipt of the order. A CTE by the next recipient is to record KDEs such as lot codes and associated pallet and/or case quantities upon receipt of the shipment.

Also read – The Best Practices in Food Traceability

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