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Michael Collins
April 04, 2019

Importance of Food Traceability

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There are infinite reasons to adhere to best practices when it comes to traceability. The food we consume is essential for survival, and that goes beyond just nutrition. Food safety is as important as anything, if not more so. There are several layers involved with food safety. It’s not necessarily all about the response, or often the fallout caused by a foodborne illness of some sort. It can also mean defense against these illnesses taking form in the first place. The first line of defense is undoubtedly traceability. Being prepared means that before an emergency outbreak unfolds, traceability can provide greater visibility into a specific food supply­–thus offering an advantageous position when in the midst of damage control and containment.

The reaction to an outbreak is of paramount importance, and traceability is essential to reacting appropriately, with the ability to cut off outbreaks at the beginning. Making sure a foodborne illness is nipped in the bud is not only beneficial to the consumers, it is also extremely important to the food manufacturer or grower–the stakeholders. One too many reports of foodborne illness could easily spell the end for a business as swiftly as any financial issue or managerial folly.

Following the initial reaction, the recovery phase must be poignant, and efforts must be doubled to ensure the fallout from the contamination is minimized. With traceability, the company can do wonders in maintaining or rebuilding the trust of consumers with the introduction of evolved safety and resiliency programs. But before it comes to that, perhaps the most important food safety endeavor is prevention. Preventing the outbreak in the first place can potentially save lives and save a company’s reputation from near ruin. Traceability can get to the root of the problem, where the foodborne illness manifests in order to impose preventative measures for potential problems in the future. The thing about traceability is that is becoming more and more important due to consumers raising their expectations regarding food safety and trust. When an outbreak occurs, the safety of the general public is at stake, and this is on a global scale. Not only is the health of consumers at risk, an outbreak of E. Coli for example can be detrimental to a company and its employees’ livelihoods. There is a network that is entirely dedicated to regulating food supply chains on a global level, and their work allows companies and entire industries to follow safe practices during phases of growth and production. The Global Food Traceability Center is committed to helping businesses understand and effectively integrate methods by which they can track and trace the chain in which their products move from the farm or factory to the point of purchase.

The ability to zero in on the origin of a product is crucial to preventing, or when need be-stopping outbreaks from spreading further. The implementation of sustainable traceability will become more and more in demand over time because it is proven to be quite lucrative from a financial standpoint as far as certain businesses are concerned. For example, in a report taken from the Grocery Manufacturers Association of the United States, the outcome of recall is so significant that 52 percent of all recalls cost companies over 10 million dollars and about 23 percent cost up to 30 million dollars. So, you see, traceability benefits us all, whether we are able to see it clearly or not.

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