The Importance of Food Traceability in The Agro-Industry
Food Traceability is the ability to trace and follow the food produced or processing that passed through all stages of production and distribution through the value chain. So is also called the ability to trace the history of various farm inputs applied to produce the product or the process it underwent during the production, packing, or supply chain.
“It is known that Food Traceability involves Identifying the origin of the food, ingredients applied and food source.”
The essential role of Food Traceability
The role of food traceability is to maintain food safety. Traceability requires food producers to have sound, integrated systems in place to ensure effective controls, both in day-to-day operations but also in the case of a contamination or other safety issue.
Food Traceability and Food Trackability
Traceability – Traceability consists of two distinct components: tracking and tracing. Tracing creates a history of a product’s navigation throughout the entire food chain. Whether for a single unit or a batch, the tracing history provides information about the product’s origin and its movements forward.
Trackability – While tracking is the ability to pinpoint the destination of a particular product, following its path through the food chain from the point of manufacturing to the final point of sale or point of consumption.
In comparison, tracing looks backwards to a product’s origin while tracking looks forward to its destination.
Top 10 Roles of Food Traceability in The Agro Industry:
1. Food Safety incidents
2. Food Residue Surveillance
3. Risk assessment from food exposure
4. Enforcement of labelling claims
5. Control Grading Fraudality.
6. Reduce Food Wastage
7. Ensure Food Hygiene
8. Farmer Empowerment
9. Export Enhancement
10. Customer Trust
Role of Food Traceability in Agro Industry:
1. The Significance of Food Traceability in Food Safety:
Food traceability plays a crucial role in ensuring self and public health safety. Unsafe foods can contain harmful pathogens that can transmit contagious diseases and cause serious illness to the consumer.
Food Safety refers to the handling, processing, or storing of foods in the best possible way to reduce the risk of people falling sick because of unhygienic or unhealthy practices. There are various food certifying companies available to certify the authenticity of the food product.
Food safety issues generally relate to pathogens, residues of veterinary drugs, pesticide residues, toxins, dioxin, residues of cleaning chemicals, use of unauthorized food additives, simple adulterants, heavy metals, etc.
In addition, food safety issues can also be an outcome of filthy or unsanitary conditions, allergens, and unregistered processes or manufacturers.
For example, In corn cultivation – The transparency in food traceability helps the consumer or the importing countries to get to know about the hazardous nature of the Pesticide or fertilizer applied in excess to cultivate the crop or to mitigate the crop loss.
In case of the process and packed foods, the banned food preservatives or the hazardous chemicals used during the cold or dry storage or during transportation can be identified and avoided.
2. Food Residue Surveillance:
With the increased global population, food residue surveillance helps to find and reduce the chemical and microbiological contaminants in the food produced. Food Traceability helps to regulate the use of harmful synthetic pesticides or antibiotics applied on the farm or animals to treat insects, weeds during pre and post-harvest.
Note: For example: When it rains, the heavy metals in the pesticide that is used to treat the crop end up in the nearby pond or water bodies and contaminates the ecosystem.
Food Residue surveillance and pesticide monitoring regulatory programs regulate the presence of pesticide residues present in food. Approximates and adopts the use of climate resilience crops that can withstand the diseases and avoid the use of the pesticide or fertilizer application.
3. Food Exposure Risk Assessment through Traceability :
The risk assessment of the food exposure includes hazard identification and risk characterization. Food Traceability helps to make decisions on whether the given food commodity is safe to consume or to be prevented from human consumption.
The exposure assessment is the process of estimating the magnitude, frequency, and duration of exposure to the substance.
1: Identify the hazards.
2: Decide who might be harmed and how.
3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions.
4: Record your findings and implement them.
5: Review your risk assessment and update.
4. Enforcement of labeling claims :
Speaking of labelling claims in the food labelling standard, many people may think of Nutrient Function Claims but in a broad sense, the purpose is to prevent misleading representations of various kinds of claims.
Prevent illegitimate Labelling Claims
• Allergen Free
• Zero Salt
• Low Sugar
• No Colorant
• Zero Calorie
• No GMO Used
A Consumer should be able to make claims based on the product label specifications representation. As part of quality assurance, Food Labelling ensures the claims about food safety standards, quality of the content, and ingredient specification with the manufacturing data.
5. Control Grading Fraudality:
Food fraud is the act of purposely altering, misrepresenting, mislabeling, substituting, or tampering with any food product at any point along with the farm–to–table food supply–chain.
Fraud can occur in the raw material, in an ingredient, in the final product or in the food’s packaging.
Fraudulent and intentional substitution, dilution or addition to a raw material or food product, or misrepresentation of the material or product for financial gain by increasing its apparent value or reducing its cost of production or to cause harm to others by malicious contamination, is ‘food fraud.’
Mitigating Food fraudality through Grading;
Grading is done by assessing the number of characteristics of the food product to obtain the overall quality. This can be normally carried out by experts or trained operators, food inspectors, or laboratories.
Grading is more expensive than sorting because this involves the high cost of skilled personnel requirements.
6. Reduce Food Wastage across the supply chain:
While food waste is commonly a result of consumer behaviour after purchase, food manufacturers and their trading partners can help ensure more edible food stays out of the garbage by implementing better traceability processes.
The supply chain processes based on GS1 Standards have served the grocery industry well to provide a solid operational foundation to facilitate less food waste.
Food manufacturers and their trading partners can ensure consumer confidence in the safety and freshness of their food without sacrificing product quality. Adopting standards-based traceability procedures will lead to more precise inventory planning and category management.
7. Ensure Food Hygiene:
Poor food hygiene is the major cause of human illness. Most hygiene problems are caused by faulty handling of food and, in the case of processed or packaged food, often occur after manufacture and packaging.
Food traceability ensures the good health of consumers by the measures to control the hazards of chemicals, the microbiological substances being added to the food. New metrics to control food hazards through Food traceability have been identified and implemented.
In order to ensure food safety, the processing facilities must maintain essential principles such as microbiological, chemical, and physical safety within the production facilities, including the interior surfaces, equipment, instruments, and devices.
To monitor hygiene in the working environment, simple and rapid methods are needed in food-processing plants. Various detection methods including direct/indirect methods, culture-based methods, immunological methods, and nucleic acid-based methods for rapid monitoring are developed and evaluated.
FBDS Food-borne disease surveillance
FSMS Food safety management systems
GAP Good agricultural practices
GFSI Global Food Safety Initiative
ISO International Organization for Standardization
Food Sanitation Act
WHO World Health Organization
HACCP Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point
8. Farmer Empowerment:
Food traceability helps the farmer with the market linkage with the international buyers, as they can locate or retrace the source of the product produced. Farmers who are part of this value chain benefit from the higher market price.
For example, the farmer who cultivates corn tags the harvest sacks with QR codes. Which gives information about the Corn variety, plantation date, farm inputs applied, date of the harvest, and packed dates. The Geo-Tagging of the corn sacks is done right from the Cultivated farmland till it reaches the processing facility and the retail unit for consumption.
“In Food Traceability – The consumer can locate the farmer and the farm even before buying the produce”.
9. Export Enhancement:
Small and Medium farmers face obstacles in reaching the foreign market, which include lack of market information, lack of knowledge on export complexities and risks, policies, etc. Export Enhancement programs are aimed to enhance the export potential of the rural and small farm holders to improve their economic well-being through cross-border trade facilitation.
Export Enhancement Through Food Track and Traceability:
1) Agro Commodity Demand Traceability analyzes the export assistance needs of small and medium rural and agricultural firms.
2) Identify export assistance and promotion services offered at the central and state levels to meet the needs of small and medium rural and agricultural firms.
10. Customer Trust:
Consumers who pay high prices for the food they consume have the right to know about the source and quality of the food. When it comes to processed or packaged food products the batch level traceability helps to identify and recall unsafe foods. Thus the Traceability provides the ultimate customer trust and gives them confidence about the authenticity of the product delivered on time.
Farmsio’s Food Traceability and Trackability come down to systems that can meet the needs of an increasingly dynamic food chain through a Blockchain network. Track and Trace Processes need to be standardized among producers, suppliers, and distributors so that, in the case of an issue, traceability can be a powerful asset in the diagnosis and recovery efforts.
Farmsio with extensive experience in Sustainable Agriculture Methods and Modern Digital technology for Agriculture expertise can ensure traceability and food safety throughout the food chain and work closely with the Food and beverage producers, processors to find the right tailor-made, result-oriented, traceability solutions.