The ability to track any food commodity or material used for human consumption through all the stages of manufacturing, processing, and distribution is known as traceability. At any point in the supply chain, it’s all about knowing the data generated one step behind or one step ahead. In today’s food manufacturing industry, traceability has expanded to include understanding the origin of raw materials, additives, and other ingredients.
Relevance of Traceability
In today’s world, adopting traceability in the food industry is critical for ensuring the safety of food products. As you might be aware, there are several food industry controversies including bans of various brands for adulteration, various outbreaks of diseases or flu from the poultry industry, serious health problems caused by junk food consumption, and so on. By establishing continuity between suppliers and customers, traceability will assist all parties in avoiding these issues.
The majority of today’s manufacturing companies have expanded to a global level network in order to expand their market and thereby increase their revenue. The supply chain in these global level industries is complicated because it involves suppliers from various countries for a specific product. In certain nations, having traceability-enabled supply chains is also a legal requirement for foreign exports and imports. In this type of complex supply chain, traceability aids visibility so that if an issue arises at any point during development, it is simple to trace back and determine the source of the problem before resolving it.
It not only aids in supply chain visibility, but it may also assist you in detecting possible risks that could arise in the future as a result of a product, thus assisting you in preventing undesirable goods from reaching consumers. Although traceability benefits producers, it also benefits customers by allowing them to learn more about the product. Many businesses have traceability to their consumers in order to maintain product integrity. Many emerging technologies, such as Blockchain, are used for traceability.
Characteristics of Traceability
The most common characteristics of traceability, such as identification, details, and tracing different links in a complex supply chain, have already been addressed. Traceability systems, on the other hand, vary in terms of tracking range, or how far and precisely the traceability system can track information.
Technologies behind Traceability
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
This technology transmits data from an RFID tag to a reader using electromagnetic fields. For monitoring fixed or mobile goods, RFID may provide real-time data.This technology makes it possible to capture data automatically in a more effective manner. The RFID tag, which contains a memory chip, can store information such as location, serial number, manufacturer details, picture, and so on. RFID’s key disadvantages are its cost, infrastructure requirements, and setup time.
You can use barcodes on goods for more than just inventory management and pricing. It can store data such as the country of origin, product specifications, and company information. Under the barcode, these bits of information are written as codes.
A company’s name, for example, may be written as a code (numbers) prefix to other numbers, with each number having its own meaning. All of this information can be decoded by scanning barcodes using a barcode scanner. Barcodes are less expensive than other systems and are used in a variety of sectors outside of food, including retail, health care, transportation, and logistics.
QR codes (Quick Response Codes)
QR codes are similar to barcodes in that they can be scanned to access information. The key distinction between a barcode and a QR code is that QR codes can hold far more data and can be programmed to perform several acts. QR codes contain information both vertically and horizontally that can be read through a smartphone camera or other camera-enabled devices, and they are used in many fields other than traceability, such as virtual reality systems, payment/transaction systems, online bookings for transportation or cinemas, and so on. QR codes contain information both vertically and horizontally that can be read through a smartphone camera or other camera-enabled devices.
Blockchain technology is one of the most advanced traceability technologies available. This technology provides consumers with real-time access to all data related to the manufacturing cycle of the purchased product. Since a copy of these data is uploaded to all the servers in the blockchain network and anybody can access it, blockchain technology is more reliable (tamper-proof) for handling and storing data. Scanning a QR code will give you access to this information.
Agriculture with Blockchain Technology for Traceability
The agriculture industry also uses blockchain to increase their potential in transportation, logistics, and transaction costs, among other things, by enhancing inventory monitoring, delivery processes, and lowering transaction costs by avoiding the involvement of third parties such as banks. Farmers can also produce proof of product (harvest) quality using blockchain and IoT, which can help them sell their produce in markets or to manufacturers.
Brand Transparency with Blockchain Technology
Blockchain plays a crucial role in brand transparency. People nowadays pay less attention to brand ads and instead rely on the knowledge that the brand can provide. Consumers want to know how the food product they’re about to purchase is made, what processes were used, and whether it’s clean. These questions cannot be answered through ads, but they can be answered through blockchain traceability, which allows for in-depth monitoring of each phase of the food product’s production, from farm to table, with each stage of raw material to product being tracked and the data being submitted to the blockchain. This is the only way to address each consumer’s concerns about the food’s quality and protection, as well as their faith in that specific brand.
What is the actual need for Traceability in the Food Industry?
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on November 25, 2019, in New Delhi announced that 10 Indian states had failed to meet the food safety standards. The explanation for this was that, despite the existence of a food safety law over a decade ago, the states were unable to put in place full-time officers for food safety and these states lack adequate laboratories for testing food adulterations. You might be wondering how this relates to traceability. But the truth is that we don’t have enough time to determine which foods are healthy to eat and which are not. It is a fact that more than 80% of food items available on the market are adulterated, and you might have already consumed some of them. This is where the advantages of traceability come into play for you, the producers and customers. Traceability can help you to get access to healthy food or at least get you to understand at what levels the adulterants are used in that particular food product that you were about to buy from the store.
Check out – ‘Food Technology: The Game Changer & the Future’