The importance of traceability in your supply chain

traceability in supply chain

By guest author, Danielle Bowling, editor of Food Magazine*

Traceability takes centre stage in an organisation’s supply chain

Last year, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) provided updated information for Australian food businesses regarding food-product traceability and product-recall obligations in the supply chain. It’s important that all food and beverage suppliers understand their obligations in these two critical areas — one of which is that FSANZ requires food businesses to be able to provide information about the food it has on its premises and where it came from, including on request.

According to FSANZ, traceability in the Australian food sector should enable businesses to identify the source of all inputs — such as raw materials, additives, other ingredients and packaging — on the basis of “one step forward and one step back” at any point in the supply chain. Traceability enables food businesses to target the product(s) involved in a food-safety problem, thereby minimising disruption to trade and reducing potential public health risks.

An effective product-traceability system helps isolate and prevent contaminated products reaching consumers in the event of a product recall. It also helps Australian food businesses protect their brands. This article explains how traceability helps with recalls.

GS1 Australia was pleased to hear the FSANZ development; it believes a business’s need to track and trace a raw material, ingredient or packaging material through all stages of its production, processing and distribution to the end consumer as a fully packaged item is an often undervalued and unrecognised ability. FSANZ’s latest update may change that.

Lack of traceability processes leads to delays

Steve Hather, MD of the RQA Product Risk Institute, is right when he says traceability is an important part of an organisation’s product recall management plan. He sees companies struggle with recalls — most often in those first critical stages of investigating incidents and making the decision to recall. He says the lack of effective traceability processes and people trained in using them often leads to delays in actioning a product recall — one of the leading causes of “incidents” escalating into a “crises”.

He also says roughly one-third of a recall’s total cost is in business interruption. So companies need effective business continuity programs to minimise disruption and get back into business as soon as possible after a recall.

Being out of the market for an extended period of time can lead to loss of shelf space, or worse – loss of key customers. A company’s ability to successfully track and trace their products through their supply chain and retrieve them from the marketplace is a key component in the decision by the relevant regulatory authorities to finally close out an organisation’s product recall.


If you’re interested in learning more about risk management, incident identification, escalation, a product recall management plan and GS1 Australia Recall, then book at place at:

The Effective Recall Management Workshops (jointly run by GS1 and RQA). The 2013 dates are:

• Wednesday 6th March 2013 in Melbourne
• Thursday 7th March 2013 in Sydney

Because Recallnet increases the speed and accuracy of recall and withdrawal notifications, it decreases business and consumer risk, reduces costs, protects brands and ultimately, helps improve food safety in Australia. So the workshops could be a good investment.

About the author: 

Danielle Bowling is editor of Food Magazinea food manufacturing title. Danielle is particularly interested in the journey food takes from the paddock to the plate; she also has a passion for foodservice and Australia’s wonderful restaurant industry!

by Guest Author

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