World Food Day – Food Safety & Traceability in the Food Supply Chain
“The COVID-19 global health crisis has been a time to reflect on things we truly cherish and our most basic needs. These uncertain times have made many of us rekindle our appreciation for a thing that some take for granted and many go without: food.” – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
This year’s #WorldFoodDay on 16th October 2020 marks the 75th Anniversary of the founding of FAO, an organisation founded to strengthen food production and distribution systems to fighting hunger and tackling disease, whether they emerge in humans, animals, plants, or the environment.
This year’s #WorldFoodDay is nothing but ordinary with the pandemic threatening our populations. The impact of COVID-19 on food and agriculture affects value chains, food prices, and food security across the globe. Sustainable initiatives led by governments and private organisations, aim to mitigate the impact of food supply on vulnerable communities amidst this pandemic, needs to ensure food safety and prevent contamination across the supply chain.
A research revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic had intensified the urgency for supply chain transparency. This is especially pronounced in the food supply chain as the consumer highly demands food supply chain transparency, resulting from several occurrences of food safety issues around the world. In the early days, a vision study report by Zebra Technology enlightened the industry players and public on food safety, traceability and transparency in the food supply chain.
Now you may ask, how do food safety and traceability in the food supply chain relate to each other? Both are essential quotidian supporting our daily life with minimal visibility; both are at stake if no preventive measures are taken proactively. With traceability in the food supply chain, visibility and transparency offered to the industry and public. Traceability upholds trust and reliability between industry players and the consumer and eases the operation suppose a food safety alert emerges.
Application of Traceability
Subsequently, consumer brands such as Mondeléz, Olam, and EZ Grow Farms join the traceability movement to build a safe food supply chain. Countries such as Australia, Hong Kong, UK, and Brazil have reinforced traceability in the food supply chain by introducing standards and regulations. Furthermore, the FDA has recently proposed a food safety fundamental rule for the farm-to-fork food traceability across the food industry.
Traceability is a supply chain solution supported by software and hardware. For the software, blockchain has been the top choice when considering a system to support end-to-end traceability. Blockchain is proven to certify the authenticity and prevent falsification, while simultaneously visualizing the entire supply chain for greater value.
A Japanese blockchain company, Chaintop designed a traceability system that requires just the mobile app and a smartphone. With this simple mechanism, the public can scan the QR code on the product to gain product information registered. The company has managed to trace sea squirts in Japan and pharmaceutical products in Malaysia. Meanwhile, the Australian Department of Primary Industry is looking into tracing mud crab to combat illegal fishing and hence ensuring a sustainable resource of mud crab. Traceability can be a solution for sustainable supply chain environment too.
Security Seals and Tamper-Evident Sticker in Traceability
While blockchain enables authenticity certification, the hardware for traceability must be able to secure the product and uphold material integrity. The hardware shall not compromise on any pilferage, alteration, and theft. Security seals and tamper-evident stickers are the best hardware and identifiers for traceability as they are versatile for all applications throughout the process, tamper-evident, and cost-effective.
Mega Fortris is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of security seals, container bolt seals, tamper-evident products, and complete solutions for the securing of goods. The award-winning and standards accredited company offers a full range of highly tamper-evident and cost-competitive security products. With the versatility and efficiency of the products and services, the company is ready to serve the industry players intent to implement traceability in their operation.
Traceability for Food Supply Chain Transparency
The elevation and implementation of traceability for food safety in the food supply chain rely on the technology advancements and substantial tools, in addition to supporting the operation and delivering optimized performance. Security seals are not only an integral but rather a fundamental tool to complete traceability in the food supply chain. With security seals and technology, we can simultaneously achieve security, visibility, and sustainability in the food supply chain.
From the consumer demand we see in the surveys and reports, to the industry initiatives and standards and regulations by the government, the collective efforts set the pace to establishing a worldwide definitive standard and system, hence assemble a safe and transparent food supply chain. Industry players should be able to identify the intangible yet significant return of traceability and be part of the movement to improve food safety in the food supply chain. Make timely decisions; be resilient.