Traceability is a non-negotiable, standard element of chilled food management. Our members require full traceability throughout the food chain and take active measures at every stage of supply and production to ensure that food safety and quality standards are in place. Such high standards are essential as it is not possible to turn poor quality raw materials into high quality end-products that people will wish to buy again and again.
Chilled food companies have such highly sophisticated traceability systems that, when necessary, they can, within a matter of hours, trace an ingredient anywhere in the supply chain (e.g. by using computerised record systems).
Suppliers must operate to standards set out in our various guidance documents, manufacturer and retailer codes. A satisfactory standard must be demonstrated against each criterion before approval to supply is granted and also for ongoing supply.
Our members regularly audit suppliers on traceability and use:
- Accredited suppliers
- Accredited and audited standards throughout the supply chain
- Accredited and audited sources of raw materials.
In the case of leafy salads, for example, lot number information marked on the packaging enables full traceability including the identification of:
- The date of harvest;
- The farm plot or field, producer and country of origin;
- The chain of ownership (i.e. from grower to recipient); and
- Any approved agricultural application or process used in growing the crop (e.g. irrigation) and the dates of application.
Maintaining high standards and stringent specifications for all chilled food suppliers underpins the continuing safety and quality of chilled foods.