Traceability also requires sensibility if you want a safe supply chain.

September 26th, 2008

When the FDA talks about traceability and refers to one back one forward

When the FDA talks about traceability and refers to one back one forward, what are they referring to? Does it make our supply chain safer?

The definition of traceability according to Wikipedia refers to the completeness of the information about every step in a process chain. Traceability is the ability to verify the history, location, or application of an item by means of documented recorded identification.

When the FDA uses this term what they are referring to is the capability of bidirectional traceability or tracing products one step back one step forward. This means identifying the immediate supplier of the product and identifying the immediate recipient of the product, which is not the final retailer.

However the process also requires some level of common sense. I?m a man of faith, but blind faith really gets us no where when we are talking about food product traceability. GS1 has created a certification for traceability in cooperation with a number of organizations such as FMI, CIES and BASF.

So from a common sense perspective one would believe that all products we consume are safe, that all produce and grain products are traced back to the seed level. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Let?s just examine milk products or byproducts. In a recent blog tiled It Could Happen Here, this author discussed the fact that what is happening in China where 13,000 babies are still hospitalized and over 53,000 babies affected could happen here. Just today we hear that in fact Chinese candy in the United States contains melamine. What other products contain this or other carcinogens that should not be consumed and how can retailers control the introduction of such ingredients in the products they buy for resale.

On Monday I will discuss what solution providers in the procurement space can do and the best practices that can be implemented to protect retailers during the procurement process and their consumers as a byproduct.

We look forward to your comments.

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