Food Safety and Traceability

Food Safety and Traceability Food safety and quality have become increasingly important world-wide in recent years, not only in terms of protecting the health of the consumer and ensuring food security, but also to meet requirements for international trade. This is especially important for many developing countries that export foods to the major trading blocks of the developed world, or that have the potential to do so.

To facilitate such trade, it is necessary to implement international standards, guidelines and recommendations for the production of safe and quality-assured foods.

This includes developing the necessary analytical capacity to detect and monitor food contaminants such as residues of pesticides and veterinary drugs, and mycotoxins during the production process and in finished food products, and also to assure the quality of the agrochemicals used.

A relatively new development in systems for the control of food safety and quality is the focus on the traceability of foods. The ability to demonstrate the origin and the authenticity of food products is a major concern to food safety regulators and to trading partners due to increasing mobility and cross-border transportation of food commodities. Failure to securely characterize food quality and safety parameters has been shown not only to have devastating economic consequences but also to create potential human and animal health problems.

Food traceability and authenticity touch upon a range of diversified interests of all stakeholders in the food production chain: consumers are concerned that the food they eat is safe and correctly labeled, producers that the commodity they process and trade is not adulterated or subject to fraud, and legislators to demonstrate that food safety and quality parameters are met.

A major factor behind the increased interest in food authentication is the need to meet requirements for international trade. When applied in conjunction with detection and monitoring schemes, traceability mechanisms enable regulatory authorities to trace contaminated products which may be harmful to the health of the consumer to their source in order to take preventative actions to avoid reoccurrence of the contamination, and also to withdraw the contaminated products from the market if necessary. Traceability combined with traditional food safety programmes provides the ideal control system for maintaining food safety and quality and protecting the consumer.