Food traceability has become increasingly important in the food industry. Unfortunately, it took an alarming number of recalls and contamination incidents before food-related businesses started realizing that food traceability has to be integrated into the food supply chain. In this day and age where globalization plays a significant role in food production and distribution, it has become a necessity, especially for third world countries to comply with regulations implemented by countries that export their food products. Indeed, with food traceability, there is a systematic way to practice transparency and at the same time, be able to respond quickly if there is a food safety breach.
Food traceability systems – benefits for developing countries
The bulk of incidents related to food safety occur in third-world countries. By increasing the implementation of food traceability systems, these industries can minimize occurrences of foodborne illness outbreaks. Moreover, a food traceability system includes digital infrastructure and other features that are often lacking in food production and processing industries in developing countries.
Why is traceability essential in the food trade?
One of the challenges in preventing food contamination is the early detection of hazards. What food traceability does is provide the necessary data to pinpoint the exact source of contamination accurately. In case a contaminated product gets distributed in the market, food traceability data makes it possible to implement a food recall efficiently and effectively.
Traceability is especially valuable in industries involved with producing and distributing perishable goods such as fruits and vegetables. Lastly, a food traceability system helps maintain public health and safety both in local and international markets.
Challenges faced by developing countries in implementing food traceability systems
A food traceability system that functions efficiently is not easy to implement. Apart from the expense, most systems are provided by the private sector. More often than not, the only time it becomes necessary is when the consumer demands it. In developing countries, the main challenge is the lack of infrastructure. Not only are some producers unable to connect to basic amenities like electricity, but online access is even more of an impossibility in some locations.
It is often observed that only companies actively engaged in the export market are capable of investing their resources in food traceability system implementation.
But, there is hope for these developing countries. First, mobile technology is becoming widespread, which will resolve the issue of connectivity. As global demand continues to increase, more producers are willing to invest in infrastructure that will allow them to enter the export market. As such, food traceability becomes a non-negotiable requirement in order for these companies to comply with global standards on food safety.
As more consumers become increasingly aware of food safety challenges faced by developing countries, regulations in many countries around the world will eventually tighten to safeguard consumer interests. In the end, food traceability systems will likely become widely implemented even in developing countries which used to struggle with adopting this technology. This projected improvement will benefit not only the food production market but also the general public.