What is Preventing Whole Chain Traceability in the Food Industry?

Food safety is a top concern for those in the food industry, with recalls causing serious harm to a brand’s reputation and endangering the health of customers. While many food companies are able to look “one-back” at their suppliers, the problem often come from suppliers to those suppliers or a point even further back in the supply chain.

Unfortunately, the industry does not really offer any comprehensive way for all manufacturers to look all the way forward and back through their supply chain, which is why recalls can quickly become a nightmare when the source of a problematic food cannot be identified. Whole chain traceability is clearly desirable, but is such a feat even possible? Here is a look at some of the stumbling blocks.

Product Type

To some extent, the possibility of instituting whole chain traceability depends largely on the product in question. With an integrated supply chain, it might be possible to trace eggs or animals back to the farm from which they came, and all of their feed and other relevant data is easily available. In the case of soybean oil or flour, on the other hand, it can be infinitely more complicated, with lots of co-mingling from hundreds of farms in an elevator before they are distributed to processing plants. Figuring out the exact field from which an ingredient came is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Technological Limitations

Manufacturers might be willing to replace outdated methods of reporting data with more modern ones, particularly in light of new FSMA regulations. However, their customers and suppliers, as well as those companies’ customers and suppliers, also need to take this step, in order to achieve supply chain visibility.

Reluctance to Share Data

Even when companies do possess the ability to share information regarding their safety practices or the sources of their ingredients, they might not always be willing or even allowed to do so. Data privacy laws in Europe can be particularly challenging.

It’s not just recalls driving the need for greater traceability. Marketplace pressure and consumer demands are also making traceability increasingly crucial.

This blog post was based off of an article from Supply Chain Dive. View the original here.

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