Food Traceability: Understand the strengths, limitations, and risks of your current capabilities

Generix Blog

Ask any senior executive at a food company about traceability, and they’re likely to say, “We have solid capabilities in place.”

Because if they don’t have good traceability, they’re not likely to admit it to an outsider. 

It’s as if some executives carry a list of regulatory requirements in their mind. If they’ve mentally checked the box of traceability, they’re loath to consider the topic much further.

Other priorities may feel more urgent. Their company faces intensifying competition. The industry’s revenue growth is flattening. Margins are thin. Distribution is disrupted. Consumer preferences are changing. Tariffs and trade agreements are upending supply chains. Mergers and acquisitions are increasing. 

Yet traceability is one of the most urgent important topics for executives in food companies to consider now.

Why? Because food traceability is fundamental to food safety. And food safety is one of the biggest potential threats and opportunities for the health of any food brand.

Do you have adequate traceability for your customers, regulators, insurers, owners and investors? A yes/no checkbox beside the topic isn’t good enough. 

The topic isn’t binary. In fact, it’s highly nuanced.

There are big differences in traceability processes and systems. Consequently, there are big differences in the amount of insight, efficiency, control, and protection or risk they entail.

The important question is not whether you have food traceability that meets legal and regulatory requirements. Of course you do. You’re required by law to have traceability in both the United States and Canada. Not to have it would be criminal. It would be a disaster waiting to happen.

Here are questions executives could benefit more by asking:

  • What kind of traceability does your company have?
  • How well does it stack up against the state of the art?
  • How solid are your traceability processes?
  • How much effort do your processes require? And what is the efficiency?
  • How effectively does your traceability processes mitigate their business risk?

As a rule, more traceability is better.

But what do we mean by more traceability? How much traceability can you get?

To answer these key questions, Generix Group defines 11 criteria for evaluating and comparing traceability capabilities. Here are 6 of the 11:

  1. Compliance. Do your traceability capabilities comply with laws and regulations of all the countries, states, and provinces where your products are sold? Do they also comply with the requirements of current and future customers?
  2. Speed and timeliness. If a food-safety emergency arises – or if a regulator or customer asks you to stage a mock recall – how fast can you generate useful insights? Does your reporting cover all of your production for any period of time, including your current production?
  3. Accuracy. Would you bet your company on the accuracy of your data? 
  4. Effort and efficiency. How much of a fire drill is it to produce a report? How many resources does it require, and how much does a mock recall disrupt your staff?
  5. Completeness, granularity & thoroughness. How much detail do your traceability processes contain? Can you trace products, ingredients, packaging, and labeling back to the lot level?
  6. Control. Do your traceability processes enable you to avoid missteps that may compromise food safety?   

Generix Group will share the full list of 11 criteria in an Innovia webinar on September 25. In the webinar they will also provide more detail about each criterion. 

Is it worth the cost and effort for your company to provide the best food traceability you can? Very likely. 

First-rate traceability can reduce legal liability in the event of a health-threatening food recall. It can also help differentiate your brand. It can satisfy the most demanding of your potential customers. And it can provide many other benefits that ripple throughout your company.

To learn more about Generix Group, watch our webinar on demand.

Generix Group

Generix Group

Based in Montreal Canada, Generix Group North America is an active technology player. Montreal is recognized city for creativity and technology excellence. With leading Universities and Research and Development programs, Generix Group North America plays an important role with creating employment and actively investing in R&D.

We are proud to be part of this new economy shaping the future.

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