Understanding the Technology of Traceability!

April 11th, 2014

With a Global demand for better traceability have you explored the technologies that can help your business?

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing.

GS1, the global standards body, the FDA, and the USDA are just a few of the organizations that are striving to increase the safety of the food we eat with new standards, processes and regulations.  With recent scares in several food items in the past few years it is no wonder that people are becoming extremely focused  on how to trace our food back to its original source.  In today’s blog we will look at some of the technologies that are helping with this process.

Enterprise Software – There are many enterprise systems out there for warehouse management and enterprise resource management that can maintain the necessary data needed to meet traceability and recall requirements but the key to these programs working for your business is whether or not they have the additional features necessary to track category/industry specific details such as those faced by seafood and meat retailers, wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers.  Companies such as JustFoodERP specialize in tracking meat and seafood by-products during the course of their life, tracking not only down to individual cases, but also providing capabilities such as the Recipe Management module to help track the by-products of the meat and seafood into other products they sell.  By managing catch-weights with a serial number tracking system, solutions like these can ensure best practices for traceability throughout their organization.

RFID – Radio Frequency Identification is not a new technology but continued development of the technology for use in traceability improves daily.  Like a barcode it can contain a unique identifier that will trace the product back to its source.  Unlike a barcode, RFID tags can be secured to be difficult to tamper with or damage, they can be placed in packaging as opposed to outside the packaging like barcodes that must be able to be seen, and unlike barcodes they can be written to and updated as the product travels through the supply chain.  With one scan an RFID tag can provide the appropriate user pages worth of information without having to be connected to an enterprise solution which can be critical when a recall is being tracked.

DNA Sampling – During the major meat recalls in the early 2000’s, DNA sampling began to take shape and developed as an alternative to typical tracing methods at that time.  With a global database of animal DNA it is possible to trace every product and byproduct back the farm or processing point of origin.  Taking DNA samples from the each carcass at the farm or packaging plant, a profile is created and stored in the database.  At any point a new sample can be taken to verify the contents and origin of the meet.  The process is virtually tamper-proof and would eliminate costly barcodes and documents and would also allow retailers and distributors to know exactly which shipments to recall, saving millions of dollars.

For more information about how we can assist you in looking into these technologies for your business, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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