Understanding the Importance of Traceability in Your Supply Chain

May 13, 2021 by Mark Dingley

Learn how automated inspection technology can assist your food-product traceability efforts

In any organisation’s supply chain, traceability takes centre stage

Back in 2012, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) provided Australian food businesses with updated information on their food-product traceability and product-recall obligations in the supply chain. It’s essential that all food and beverage suppliers understand their obligations in both of these critical areas. FSANZ, for example, now requires food businesses to be provide information about the food they have on their premises and where it came from – on request.

Traceability in the Australian food sector, according to FSANZ, should enable businesses to identify the source of all inputs (like raw materials, additives, other ingredients and packaging) on the basis of ‘one stop forward and one step back’ at any point in the supply chain. Thanks to traceability, food businesses will be able to target the product (or products) involved in a food-safety problem, which minimises disruption to trade and reduces potential public health risks.

Having an effective product-traceability system helps to isolate and prevent any contaminated products reaching consumers in the event of a recall. On top of this, it helps Australian food businesses to protect their brands.

One organisation that was happy to hear of FSANZ developments is GS1 Australia; they believe that the need to track and trace a raw material, ingredient or packaging material through all stages of production, processing and distribution is often unrecognised and undervalued. This update from FSANZ was set to change that.


Supply Chain

Delays caused by lack of traceability processes

Steve Hather, MD of the RQA Product Risk Institute, says that traceability is an important part of any organisation’s product recall management plan. He has seen companies struggle with recalls, particularly those in the first critical stages of investigating incidents and deciding to recall. He also says that the lack of effective traceability processes as well as people trained in using them often leads to delays in product recalls being actioned. This is actually one of the leading causes of ‘incidents’ that escalate into a ‘crisis’.

Hather says that roughly a third of the total cost of a recall lies in business interruption. Therefore, companies need effective business continuity programs to help minimise disruption and get back to work quickly after a recall.

An extended period of time out of the market can lead to loss of shelf space or, even worse, loss of key customers. The ability to successfully track and trace a company’s products through their supply chain as well as retrieve them from the marketplace is a vital component in the relevant regulatory authorities’ decision to finally close out a product recall.


Are you interested in learning more about escalation, incident identification, product recall management plans, risk management and GS1 Australia Recall? Then book into a workshop! GS1 and RQA run effective recall management workshops in Melbourne and Sydney a couple of times a year; check out their websites for the latest dates.
A workshop could be a good investment – as Recallnet increases the speed and accuracy of recall and withdrawal notifications, it actually decreases business and consumer risk, reduces costs and protects brands with the overarching goal of helping to improve food safety in Australia.