- Traceability throughout a manufacturer's supply chain is becoming a necessity for transparency and food safety, and former traceability methods may not be enough to meet changing regulations and expectations.
- Manufacturers have long standardized the "one-up and one-back" (OUOB) system for traceability. This system often has a lack of visibility of the complete past and future of a product or ingredient and lacks a unified process in which tracking information can be cumbersome later.
- Whole chain traceability presents one solution that uses modern technology to increase a product's visibility throughout the supply chain and reduces risk of food safety issues, such as bacterial or allergen contamination.
Whole chain traceability won't always be a "nice to have" alternative, especially as the new FSMA regulations begin to take effect for larger manufacturers next month. The risk assessments and documentation procedures involved in FSMA requirements almost necessitate the visibility and utility whole chain traceability can provide manufacturers.
That's especially true in times of inspections or recalls in which companies and regulators must identify and fix or remove the source of a contamination as quickly as possible. Whole chain traceability could help manufacturers avoid or alleviate costly recalls that continue to expand to more products, such as the current General Mills flour recall or mysterious sugar recall.
Whole chain traceability could also potentially limit the number of unsolved cases of food contamination. In the case of CRF Frozen Foods earlier this year, regulators couldn't find the exact source of listeria contamination that led to the recall of 350 products across 42 brands.
Traceability also has implications for manufacturers' marketing, branding and transparency efforts. By knowing more about their own supply chain, manufacturers can share any relevant information directly with consumers, such as through ingredient glossaries or scannable QR codes printed on product labels, like the Grocery Manufacturers Association's SmartLabel initiative.