In the second blog in this series on Traceability we will discover how complying with industry regulations is essential in today’s manufacturing process, especially in industries like food, beverage and pharmaceutical and what the legal requirements are set out by the FSA.
A lack of a comprehensive traceability system can potentially have disastrous outcomes for everyone in the supply chain, from producer to consumer. Paper does not control anything. It is just a written record, there’s no validation, and no control.
In the food and beverage industry, authenticity is essential. Consumers need to know that the foods they are purchasing consist of the things listed on their labels, as food allergies and expired foods can cause serious illness and possibly death. Since both public health and consumer satisfaction depend so heavily on product integrity, the food and beverage packaging industry is highly regulated.
One of the main things mandated by food and beverage regulation is “traceability” the practice of maintaining thorough records on the origins and whereabouts of products and raw materials by scanning printed barcodes, direct part marks (DPMs) or radio frequency identification (RFID) tags throughout the production process and the supply chain. From raw materials supplier to production line to supermarket to customer, the creation and distribution of a particular food item should be as transparent as possible.
Food and beverage manufacturers also benefit directly from traceability protocols that minimise the occurrence and effect of costly issues such as product recalls by providing real-time data on supplier materials, processes and machinery involved in production. These protocols can significantly reduce cost of a recall by isolating tainted items and making it unnecessary to pull large amounts of non-tainted product off the shelves.
Regulations are one of the primary forces spurring food and beverage manufacturers to adopt robust traceability systems. In the United Kingdom, the foremost source of regulation is the Food Standards Agency.
After a number of high-profile outbreaks of food related illnesses in 2000, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) was established as an independent government department working to protect public health and consumers’ wider interests in relation to food in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In the wake of Brexit, food and beverage regulations in the United Kingdom have changed and evolved while retaining some relevant provisions laid out in EU legislation. While Northern Ireland remains subject to EU law alone, Great Britain, Wales and Scotland fall under the provision of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as the government organisation responsible for setting and enforcing traceability requirements.
A quick reference guide published by FSA specifies that food business operators (FBOs) must maintain traceability information for suppliers and customers—equivalent to the “one step forward, one step backward” model which means they must be able to identify the businesses to which their products have been supplied and to trace food chain inputs back to the immediate supplier.
What does the law say?
- You must have traceability information for your suppliers and business customers (one step back and one step forward)
- Retailers, including caterers, are not required to keep traceability information where they sell to the final consumer. However, where they supply food businesses, all traceability requirements must be adhered to.
- You must have systems and procedures in place to allow for traceability information to be made available to enforcement authorities on demand.
- You must label or identify food placed on the market to facilitate its traceability.
- Products of animal origin and sprouted seeds are subject to specific traceability requirements.
1. The system:You must be able to trace food/ingredients purchased from suppliers and then supplied to business customers (excluding food supplied to final consumer).
2. Defining batches of food:This will help to ensure good traceability and can limit the amount of food to be withdrawn/recalled.
3. Traceability information:
- Business name
- Business address
- Description of foods purchased and sold
- Transaction dates
4. Record keeping:You must ensure your traceability information can be made available on demand.
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Garry LewisMarket Development Manager - Food, Beverage & Commodities