GS1 Australia has welcomed the FSANZ announcement and its recognition about the importance of traceability, particularly in the event of a product recall.
The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) had in September 2012, provided updated information for Australian food businesses regarding their requirements for food product traceability and product recall obligations in the supply chain process. With traceability now taking centre stage as a vital component of an organisation’s supply chain process, it is important that all food and beverage suppliers understand their obligations in these critical areas.
According to FSANZ, traceability in the Australian food sector should enable businesses to be able to identify the source of all inputs such as raw materials, additives, other ingredients and packaging on the basis of one step forward and one step back at any point in the supply chain.
Traceability enables food businesses to target product(s) affected by a food safety problem, thereby minimising disruption to trade and reducing potential public health risks.
In addition to isolating and preventing contaminated products reaching consumers in the event of a product recall, an effective product traceability system will also help Australian food businesses protect their brands.
Welcoming the FSANZ announcement, Marcel Sieira, GS1 Australia’s General Manager Business Development said that an organisation’s requirement to track and trace a raw material, ingredient or packaging material through all stages of its production, processing and distribution to the end consumer as a fully packaged item is an often undervalued and unrecognised ability within an organisation.
Given the increasing demands for food product safety from consumers, major supermarkets and regulatory authorities, Australian food businesses will only benefit by focussing on an improved ability to track and trace products up and down their supply chains.
Traceability is an important part of an organisation’s product recall management plan. Steve Hather, Managing Director of the RQA Product Risk Institute, Australasia & Pacific region’s only specialist product recall and crisis management training company points out that companies usually struggle with recalls in the first critical stages of investigating incidents and making the decision to recall. Lack of effective traceability processes and people trained in using them can often lead to delays in initiating a product recall, escalating a manageable problem into a crisis.
Business disruption accounts for about a third of the total cost of a recall, therefore companies should have effective business continuity programs in place to minimise disruption and get back into business as soon as possible after a recall. For instance, being out of the market for a period of time can lead to loss of shelf space and even customers.
GS1 Australia includes traceability as a key component of the ‘Effective Product Recall Management Workshops’ held jointly with RQA Product Risk Institute. In addition to examining risk management, incident identification, escalation, the product recall management plan and business communications, the workshops include traceability and a means for delivering information to trading partners and regulatory authorities via the GS1 Recallnet.
GS1 Recallnet simplifies and automates the exchange of information between suppliers, distributors and retailers as well as government agencies such as FSANZ and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
According to Mr Hather, GS1 Australia has assisted Australian food and beverage businesses in improving their ability to track and trace their products throughout their supply chains by implementing a range of GS1 supply chain traceability systems including the new GS1 Global Traceability Standard (GTS), which makes food and beverage traceability systems possible on a global scale for small or large organisations.