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From seed to table : the progress of the european food traceability

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By Andrea Matiz Past food crises, such as dioxin contamination and BSE, have illustrated the particular importance of being able to swiftly identify and isolate unsafe foodstuffs in order to prevent that they reach the consumer.

Food traceability is a way of responding to potential risks that can arise in food and feed, to ensure that all food products in the EU are safe for European citizens to eat.

The system of traceability should allow for an effective tracking methodology from the source materials to the farm gate – “ from seed to table”, which will include traceability models to ensure the products’ compliance with the established requirements. It consists of collecting all relevant data pertaining to the history of a product and the development of an easily accessible information system that will cover all stages of the growing, processing and distribution cycles of both fresh and processed plant and animal products. Thus, it is a major issue of knowledge management, which in essence is a question of collecting and then connecting the dots. Traceability helps companies track multiple products, monitor food safety and food quality issues, and control distribution of unsafe or poor quality products. An effective traceability program can minimize the potential for negative news, reduce product recalls, and control liability issues.

a chance for the producer too Food suppliers have three reasons for establishing product tracing systems: to improve supply-side management; to differentiate and market foods with subtle or undetectable quality attributes and to facilitate trace back for food safety and quality.

bio But it is in the real life that food traceability have changed the situation. In the foodstuff of each food we can find a huge number of label, barcode, contacts memory and radio frequency identification. In each label consumers received a very huge number of information not only the name of product or quantity but also a list of ingredients, the date of minimum durability, if GMO is used at least in a part of them.

But the new regulation have modified also another important aspect of the market. Nowadays producer can be aware of the exact trend of their products, because they receive a lot information for the label data (in particular from the barcode). It means that they can develop a new marketing strategy based on the information received.