GS1 Australia has joined forces with Efficient Consumer Response Australasia (ECRA) - supported by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) - the Liquor Merchants Association of Australia, the Food Service Suppliers Association of Australia, key government agencies and departments and key suppliers and retailers from the grocery, liquor and healthcare sectors to establish a portal for all product recalls and withdrawals.
In the past few years food safety incidents and healthcare products being tampered with have demonstrated that the identification of the origin of food and other raw materials is very important for consumer protection.
The discovery of melamine in eggs, baby formula, milk products, biscuits, chocolates and other foodstuffs containing milk derivatives in China last year made front page news and consumers were concerned that imported Chinese fruit and vegetables also would be contaminated.
Steve McCutcheon, FSANZ’s Chief Executive Officer, says that there are 50 or 60 food recalls in Australia in response to potential food safety issues each year. Also, businesses themselves initiate many withdrawals of products for a number of reasons.
The recall in Australia of a popular children's toy found to contain a chemical that the human body turns into the party drug ‘fantasy’, or ‘GHB’, highlighted that safety issues are not just related to the food sector but that accurate product recalls and traceability processes need to be implemented across many industry sectors.
In order for accurate and complete product recalls to be a reality, not only does industry need a common platform for the accurate communication of recall information to government, industry and consumers, but also business need to be able to accurately keep and access manufacturing and distribution records.
Traceability is a business capability that enables an organisation to track and trace information about products up and down the supply chain. This process is referred to as traceability, and can only be achieved successfully if it is built upon global standards that can act as the foundation for clear, understandable exchanges for everyone involved.
To this end, GS1 has created the Global Traceability Standard (GTS) which makes traceability systems possible on a global scale, all along the supply chain, no matter how many companies are involved, no matter what technologies are used.
Food traceability systems need to know everything that happens, at every step of the way, from the farm to the kitchen table. The GS1 Global Traceability Standard makes food traceability systems possible, on a global scale — no matter how many companies are involved or how many borders are crossed as food and food ingredients travel from one end of the supply chain all the way to the consumer.
Of course, traceability is particularly important if something goes wrong and food products must be recalled. Best practice traceability processes used by Australian retailers and manufacturers, combined with an industry-wide product recall platform supported by all industry players and government agencies is the foundation for accurate and fast recalls and for the safety of the Australian shopper.