How To Track Food Using Food Traceability Software Systems

By Della Monroe


Food products are mass produced in the modern era. They are manufactured in batches or consignments of thousands or millions. This makes it impossible for their manufacturers to individually inspect and approve each item. This does not mean, however, that defects are never encountered. So, where a batch has as defect, there is a threat to the public's health and the manufacturer needs to be able to trace the batch and eliminate the products from the market. Food traceability software systems are one way of doing this.

The two primary reasons for problems with food products are that they are either too old to be sold or they are a health hazard to the public. When a product is legally too old to be on the market, this does not automatically mean that it is unhealthy. It simply means that the legal expiry date has passed. The product is then not permitted to be on the shelf. The retailer is not allowed to sell it, even though it is still fit for consumption.

But the other reason is more serious. One would expect this to be limited to the perishable products like fresh fruit and vegetables and dairy, but even tinned foods and long-storage cereals suffer from the issue of decomposition. Once this has set in, the product is genuinely useless and cannot be consumed, let alone sold.

Software systems are used to mark, monitor and track food products. The manufacturer can locate a batch and then ask for it to be withdrawn from the market using these systems. This is important if the need arises to withdraw or recall a batch of products.

On their own side, the public can also take measures to protect themselves from expired or unhealthy products. The tracing system is not infallible, and products might not be accurately tagged. The expiry date on a product might not be correct, and this might not even be by accident. The date may not have been accurate to start with, or it might have been updated later to prolong the shelf presence of the item.

An example of a product that the consumer can inspect themselves is tinned food. Tins that have been penetrated, dented or that are rusting should be avoided. If the contents of a tin are decomposing, the tin will inflate. This may also indicate that air has entered the tin.

Some products are specifically marketed as long-life or long-term. But this does not mean that they never expire. The temptation for retailers is to stock them for a long time, so that even after one or two years they still have not past their expiry date. But they may yet be expired. If the retailer refuses to remove them from the shelves, the consumer has the right to contact the authorities or the manufacturer.

The flavor or quality of the product is not the only consideration when it comes to expired food products. Public health is important and expired foodstuffs can cause disease and death. These products should be detected and removed from the market as a matter of course.




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