Stay Up to Speed with Traceability Requirements in a Changed Marketplace

Christy Draus, Marketing Manager, Eagle Product Inspection

8 February 2021

The way food and beverage companies produce their products – and to whom they provide those items – has changed significantly in the past year. Whatever 2021 brings, it won’t look the same as the pre-pandemic marketplace. One thing that has not changed in the altered food supply chain, however, is the need for greater traceability, driven and shaped by consumers, foodservice and retail customers and regulatory organizations that share manufacturers’ goals of greater transparency and safer, high quality products. Advanced inspection systems are in place to help manufacturers comply with requirements and better track products through their respective systems.

It’s a new year – and a new marketplace. As you well know, the beginning of this decade has been marked by change, from shifting foodservice and retail demands to evolving consumer preferences impacting products and packaging. Some of those changes may be temporary, but many will be long-lasting.

Against this backdrop, manufacturers are carefully balancing and often updating their production capabilities while continuing to meet the ongoing push for greater traceability. In fact, we’ve seen the need for reliable, efficient and integrated traceability become even more acute, given the fact that food and beverage companies need to align with their retail and foodservice customers, with information-seeking consumers and with the many government and regulatory bodies overseeing the food supply chain.

As if keeping pace with the new marketplace isn’t already dizzying, there are also updates and changes in traceability requirements:

Better Recordkeeping for High Risk Products:

As part of its “New Era for Smarter Food Safety,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has introduced a FSMA Proposed Rule for Food Traceability that would create additional recordkeeping requirements for foods deemed to be high risk, such as sprouts, tomatoes, tropical tree fruits, fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, crustaceans and ready-to-eat-salads. Those high risk foods were singled out by an algorithm that identifies mostly microbiological and chemical and some physical hazards. Manufacturers need to keep an eye on this proposed rule, which would require proof and demonstration of traceability.

Demonstration of Efforts to Prevent Intentional Contamination:

The FDA is also beginning inspections to verify compliance with the FSMA’s rule for Mitigation Strategies to Protect against Intentional Adulteration. Here, too, the ability to trace products throughout production is important, as companies work to shore up processes that might be vulnerable to intentional contamination.

GFSI Audit Updates and Technologies:

In its ongoing effort to mitigate the impact of the global pandemic on audits and certifications, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recently announced that certificates may be extended for six months if considered a suitable option and issued new Benchmark Requirements (Version 2020.1) to include the use of information and communication technologies in audits.

The Safe Quality Food Institute, meanwhile, released a new SQF Code Edition 9 for audits  that goes into effect in May 2021 that aligns with the latest GFSI benchmark requirements and includes recommendation for technologies that help boost confidence in the food safety system.

Better technologies are emerging that enable manufacturers to meet these updated requirements and also meet the requirements of their existing and new customers. Those who produce foods and beverages can maximize their inspection systems as part of their traceability programs, as x-ray systems provide a complete picture (literally) of products at various points in the process, from raw materials received into facilities to packaged products on their way out the door.

Eagle’s advanced inspection machines are designed to find and automatically remove contaminants while performing simultaneous quality checks and are powered by next-generation software, including SimulTask™ PRO and TraceServer™ to deliver traceability. TraceServer™, for example, records production data and machine status information and consolidates it into a single centralized database; it can also access data customer-provided programs using standard SQL application interfaces.

By tracking production through every stage, advanced inspection systems provide companies with due-diligence capabilities to enhance product traceability at a time when they need to conduct and demonstrate traceability more than ever. Read our latest ebook, ‘Advance Product Line Traceability with X-ray Inspection,’ to learn more about  advanced inspection systems and how they can help streamline your quality assurance program.