What Is Food Traceability And Food Recall?

Understanding Food Traceability & Food Recall is essential to safeguard consumer health to avoid health hazards.

July 20, 2022

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Food Traceability is the ability to follow the movement of various foods through different stages of production, processing and distribution. A Food Product can be traced to its origin using a Food Label. Traceability makes it possible to locate any food product anywhere in the food chain – from farm to fork. 

The definition of Traceability has broadened 

Earlier, traceability was essential only to find out products that did not conform to food safety regulations, and to make it easier to bring back or ‘recall’ food products when necessary. However, currently, food traceability includes information provided to consumers and other concerned parties on a variety of the food attributes, country of origin, animal welfare, and genetic engineering-related issues. Long before there was an attempt to legislate for traceability, responsible food manufacturers operated their own traceability schemes, usually based on the concept widely known as “one-up, one-down,” (OUOD).

Understanding and identifying the origin of food is essential to safeguard consumer health, particularly in cases where products could have a health hazard, including allergies. Food Traceability allows precise food recall and withdrawal from the market, especially in case of contamination and outbreaks. Food Traceability is an indispensable feature of food safety, with Food recall being a follow-up of that.

Elements of the Food Label that are integral to Food Traceability 

1. Name and address of the manufacturer, packager, and marketer: 

The name and complete address of the brand owner, whether or not, he himself is the manufacturer, marketer, packer or bottler, as the case may be, shall be declared on the label. Such name and address shall be preceded by the qualifying words “Manufactured by (Mfg by, Mfd by)” or “Marketed by (Mkt by)” or “Manufactured & Marketed by” or “Packed & Marketed by” as the case may be. 

The address needs to be a physical address within the country, where the business can be contacted by mail. This allows consumers the opportunity to contact the manufacturer if they have a complaint about the product or if they want to know more about the food product.   

2. Country of Origin and Name and Address of Importer:

When an article of food is imported into India, the package of food shall also carry the name and complete address of the importer in India. Provided further that where any food article manufactured outside India is packaged or bottled in India, the package containing such food article shall also bear on the label, the name of the country of origin of the food article and the name and complete address of the importer and the premises of packing or bottling in India.

The label must clearly show where the food has come from and the origin of the main ingredients must be given if this is different from where the final product is made.

3. Identification of Lot/Code/Batch number

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A batch number or code number or lot number is an identification mark by which the food can be traced and identified within distribution, and is mandatory to be given on the label. All the packs of a food product having the same batch number or code number are considered to be produced in the same batch, and have the same nature and quality in all respects. It is mandatory for all food products to bear a label of lot/batch/code from the time it is raw, till it becomes a final product for sale.

In case of any consumer complaint about any package of food product, then the first step is to investigate the Batch no/ Lot no of that food package and the food packages having the same batch/lot no are examined with respect to the complaint.

Food traceability and Food recall are made possible because of the above elements declared on the food label. Every food business operator has to mention the above points of information on their food label. 

Also Read - What Are The Mandatory Elements Of A Food Label?  

References : 

  1. Food Safety And Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Food Safety And Standards (Labelling And Display) Regulations, 2020. Retrieved from 5fd87c6a0f6adGazette_Notification_Labelling_Display_14_12_2020.pdf (fssai.gov.in)

  2. Food Safety Helpline, (2016). Why is traceability in the food chain important for food safety? Retrieved from https://foodsafetyhelpline.com/why-is-traceability-in-the-food-chain-important-for-food-safety/

  3. Ashutosh Upadhyay and Anurag Singh, (2016). Food Traceability and Recall: Ingredient for Food Safety. FnB News. Retrieved from http://www.fnbnews.com/Top-News/food-traceability-and-recall-ingredient-for-food-safety-39173 

  4. Food Standards Agency, (2018). Labelling of prepacked foods. Food Standards Agency. Retrieved from https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/packaging-and-labelling 

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Rashida Vapiwala (Founder at LabelBlind®, Food Label Specialist, Ph.D (Food Science and Nutrition))

Rashida is passionate about solving problems for the food industry using technology. She loves creating tech-led solutions in the space of Nutrition.

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