Guest Column | February 9, 2018

GTINs, Barcodes, and Blockchain: What's The Future of Food Traceability?

By Angela Fernandez, GS1 US

Two recent news stories involving recalls — one stirring controversy over romaine lettuce and one claiming that recalls move too slowly — have led to a renewed sense of urgency for food manufacturers to fully implement food traceability programs and improve recall readiness in the U.S.

No matter the cause — undeclared allergens, the inclusion of foreign objects, or other various culprits — food recalls can have tragic results and leave the general public unnecessarily vulnerable to foodborne illness, allergic reactions, and other safety hazards. They can also cause long-term damage to an entire food category and can even wipe out once-profitable companies altogether. With so much at stake during a recall, there is no time for confusion, lack of communication, or incomplete information regarding a product’s location.

Proactive food manufacturers and suppliers are working to improve their traceability programs and minimize the impact of food recalls, driven in part by FSMA and also by the ever-growing focus on cost savings and brand protection. Boosted by the capabilities of today’s technology, the industry is moving closer than ever before to swift and precise recalls.

Filling In Knowledge Gaps With Traceability
An effective traceability program optimizes supply chain visibility —a key component of recall readiness that enables a company to fill any knowledge gaps. Supply chain visibility is achieved through leveraging global GS1 Standards, which provides systems interoperability between trading partners and helps each supply chain participant understand where a product is in the supply chain at any point in time.

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