A Guidance Document on the Best Practices in Food Traceability
Several regulatory agencies around the world are involved in rulemaking to improve the traceability of foods. Given the complexity of the global food system, guidance on improving traceability practices across the entire food industry is a challenge. A review of the current regulations and best practices indicates that “one back, one forward” is the minimum traceability requirement. There are also no uniform requirements across different food sectors, supply chains, or countries for collection of Critical Tracking Events (CTEs) and Key Data Elements (KDEs). There is a need for standardized and harmonized requirements across all food sectors compared with developing specialized rules and mandates, including exceptions, for specific foods. This document presents food traceability best practices guidance and it addresses the unknowns and gaps in understanding and the broad applicability of a CTE–KDE framework. It applies this framework to 6 food sectors as bakery, dairy, meat and poultry, processed foods, produce, and seafood. An analysis of similarities and differences across these sectors is conducted to determine broader applicability to other foods. Fifty-five experts from 11 countries were involved in developing this guidance. This guidance document is intended for regulatory agencies and the food industry. Regulators will find it useful in developing regulations and/or guidance applicable to most foods. Industry will find the minimum criteria that are necessary to manage a proper food traceability system, with the understanding that companies can choose to exceed the minimum level of criteria established. This guidance is intended to serve as a step toward consistent baseline requirements for food traceability.