PRODUCT recalls and outbreaks of foodborne illnesses make headlines all the time. But recent supply chain bottlenecks are raising fears about food quality and safety, and placing newfound emphasis on traceability systems.
Retailers and food manufacturers are struggling with the ripple effects of the ongoing lockdown in Shanghai, trade disruptions in the Black Sea region, fuel price shocks, and widespread port congestion and freight delays.
Global turmoil raises the risk that food will not be distributed swiftly, which in turn risks outbreaks of contamination and food-borne illnesses.
Tracking and monitoring ingredients has never been more important
The World Health Organisation estimates that as many as one in 10 people globally, or 600 million individuals fall sick each year after eating contaminated food – a number which could skyrocket without the necessary food safety management controls.
“There’s a saying in the investment world that when the tide goes out, you can see who has been swimming naked. Likewise, in the food industry, it’s never been more important for manufacturers and producers to be able to track and monitor ingredients every step of the way to ensure consumer health and safety,” says Eskort CEO Arnold Prinsloo.
“For businesses, traceability offers the opportunity to help protect public health and reduce food waste by creating more agile and responsive food systems. This in turn works to safeguard brand reputations and build consumer loyalty,” adds Prinsloo.
“Traceability also works to optimise supply-chains through measuring food losses and identifying weaknesses. This enhances efficiency and significantly reduces the risk of food safety issues and product recalls.
Stringent control measures
Demonstrating the level of detail demanded by well-constructed traceability systems, Eskort’s systems have been designed to monitor the smallest possible batches, which are allocated unique serial numbers. This code captures a range of details such as the individuals responsible for packing product boxes, the time boxes were packed, the individual raw materials used, and their origins.
“For pork products, this enables us to trace the meat all the way back to the individual pigs raised on specific farms,” states Prinsloo.
“Where many companies take a broader approach by allocating a week’s production to a batch, ours are deliberately smaller for greater product control. This investment not only means greater food safety benefits for customers, but also reduces overall risk in terms of possible recalls,” says Prinsloo.
It also adheres to the FSSC 22000 international food management system accreditation. This includes strict requirements for environmental and product testing, record-keeping, temperature controls, fraud prevention, and product tampering protections.
“We have an onsite laboratory for daily environmental testing, and we also submit raw material samples to an external laboratory for independent verification. All proteins need to be tested before use to prevent food fraud, and both our plants are under full camera surveillance,” he notes.
The costs involved are considerable, but absolute transparency and safety is make or break for food brands. Far from being a regulatory burden, investing in more rigid controls and systems represents a strategic opportunity to generate greater value for households and businesses.
What is the FSSC 22000 Food Safety Certification Scheme?
FSSC 22000 is a certification scheme that is recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and accepted worldwide.
The GFSI was founded by European retailers to find solutions to reduce food safety risks in the food supply chain.
Opting for FSSC 22000 certification can provide your food business with competitive advantages on a global level. The scheme is based on existing international standards for food safety management. Certification against the scheme provides proof that your food company produces products that comply with regulatory requirements, and meets the expectations of customers and consumers.