A new Product Information Form (PIF) service has been launched by GS1 Australia to provide a further step to creating traceability and a complete food safety culture in Australia.
The new online portal has been developed in collaboration with the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and the food and grocery sector, and has been designed to provide a standardised, whole-of-industry platform for PIF management.
The original PIF was launched by the AFGC in February 2008 to develop standardisation and alignment in the way in which raw material suppliers provide information on the ingredients they supply to their customers.
The PIF is an excel spreadsheet designed to enable all ingredient suppliers and food manufacturers to use a single form to meet their legal obligations under Food Standards and Consumer protection requirements.
Director of Food Policy and Regulation for the AFGC, Kim Leighton, explains that some companies may have only a few dozen PIFs that need to be updated, while others literally have thousands.
Recognising the need for the current PIF form to be presented in a format that enables ingredient data to be exchanged electronically, the AFGC contacted GS1 Australia to develop an online solution.
The new portal allows PIF data to be mapped and integrated from back office applications in an XML format.
GS1 Australia’s General Manager – Business Development, Marcel Sieira, says that the online version of PIF has the potential to be capable of automating many tasks for both ingredient suppliers and food manufacturers.
Sieira gives the example of an ingredient supplier managing a PIF for a food ingredient sold to 100 customers. In the event any of this product data was to change, the supplier would normally need to manually create 100 new PIFs.
“This process can be completed by the simple click of a mouse with the new online application, saving companies countless hours of manual activity, potential manual transcription errors and related fixes,” he notes.
GS1 Australia had worked with a number of food manufacturers and raw ingredient suppliers on an industry pilot that was completed last month.
“We gathered a lot of feedback during the pilot to improve the service. Now that the industry group has endorsed the PIF Online, GS1 Australia has started to develop a market-ready version of the portal and plan to launch the service in the second half of 2011,” Sieira concludes.