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Photo: Tom Haga (c) Norwegian Seafood Export Council.Photo: Tom Haga (c) Norwegian Seafood Export Council

The vital traceability

14.02.2014 // Traceability is the ability to trace the history, application or location of an entity by means of recorded information (ISO 8402:1994). In the food chain, traceability means the ability to trace and follow a food, feed, food producing animal or substance through all stages of production and distribution.

Traceability systems must keep record of procedures that show the path of a particular unit or batch of product or ingredient from supplier(s), through all the intermediate steps which process and combine ingredients into new products and through the supply chain to consumers. The traceability of food and food ingredients along the food chain is an essential element in ensuring food safety. It is a tool for tracing product and processing information of food from sea/farm to table, so that relevant information can be found at a later point. 

According to the Norwegian Food Law, businesses should at least be able to identify the immediate supplier of the product in question and the immediate subsequent recipient -one step forward and one step back. Without precise traceability records, companies involved in food incidents are not able to do surgical recalls or provide consumers with precise and rapid information. Rapid traceability of food along the food chain is vital when withdrawing unsafe food from the market. 

To make use of electronically traceability systems are preferable. Electronic traceability through the entire value chain gives more control over food stuffs and any withdrawals of these and facilitates value adding quality labelling. Traceability systems can be used for marketing purposes, to document claims on certain product qualities such as place of production and makes it easier to verify that fish have been legally caught thus constitute an important instrument in ensuring sustainable production. 

The tools used for tracking or tracing may vary, but to track and trace along the entire food chain the different units must carry the same information. Norway finds the development of international common standards for traceability important to facilitate such traceability along the entire food chain. Among those developing standards for fisheries and aquaculture is the ISO Technical Committee 234 Fisheries and aquaculture. Norway is cheering the committee and Standards Norway - the Norwegian member of CEN and ISO provides the secretariat.  Among others, this committee has developed standards on traceability of finfish products. One with specification on the information to be recorded in farmed finfish distribution chains and one specification on the information to be recorded in captured finfish distribution chains.

 

 


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