The goal is to simplify and streamline operational efficiency and safety. “Complexities for tracking inbound ingredients and following finished goods are compounded by various go-to-market scenarios routing products to distribution centers, foodservice operators, and retail stores,” says Julie McGill, vice president of supply chain strategy and insights, FoodLogiQ, Durham, NC. “Gathering information at each of these data points is critical for supply-chain transparency and traceability.”
FDA’s proposed rule for food traceability requires certain foods and ingredients to have additional recordkeeping for consumer safety, notes Belinda Rueffer, director of marketing, Axele TMS, Coppell, TX. “The proposal affects anyone that manufactures, processes, packs, or holds foods on the Food Traceability List (FTL), which include soft cheese, shell eggs, nut butters, and other foods used in baked goods and snack foods that have been designated as high risk by the FDA. The rule must be finalized by November 2022, after which, companies across the supply chain will have two years to comply. Bakers and others across the supply chain must prepare to implement the final rule by the end of 2024.”
The rule establishes standardized recordkeeping requirements with critical tracking events and key data elements, says Rueffer. Digitized traceability lets bakeries and other producers meet these stringent requirements for smarter food safety. “Companies affected by the rule must capture the required data points outlined in the proposal and store them electronically for 24 months. If the FDA asks for records, they must be produced within 24 hours. Companies need to maintain key data elements (location, timing of event) and critical tracking events, which involves growing, receiving, transforming, creating, or shipping the food.”
Food producers and distributors must gain visibility into the routing sequences of the products being shipped and capture all events that occur, says Rueffer. “This information can be used proactively to prevent issues relating to expiration dates, damaged products, lot controls, etc. The data can offset issues driven by increased complexities in the supply chain, helping to improve food safety.”
The transparency offered by traceability solutions provides enhanced ingredient security, says Bill Romano, business development manager, Antares Vision Group, Moorestown, NJ. “In a global supply chain where counterfeiting and diversion continues to pose challenges, the ability to track raw materials and finished goods brings obvious value. And of course, should a recall be necessary, the data obtained through traceability solutions makes these far less painful and far more targeted and streamlined,” he says.
At the point of purchase, traceability tools also allow snack and bakery companies to directly engage with consumers, notes Romano, telling their brand stories with ease and depth.
“For consumers, much of traceability’s merits involve product origins, including whether or not ingredients are sustainably farmed, and how eco-conscious a product’s supply chain process is,” says Romano. “Increasingly, consumers are able to obtain this information from smartphone scans directly at the point of purchase.”
Beyond current industry and government regulations and constantly tightening processes for audit processes, the snack and bakery industry is at the forefront of a critical role in consumer safety and satisfaction, notes John Nobers, director, pharma, medical, and industrial track and trace, Videojet Technologies, Wood Dale, IL.