At a recent global briefing, Frank Yiannas, the US Food and Drug Administration’s deputy commissioner for Food Policy and Response, addressed more than 200 attendees from 33 countries on the importance of traceability and transparency in food systems.
Food fraud is having a devastating impact on Australian farmers, costing up to $2 billion each year. An independent report conducted by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) recognised product integrity as a major purchase driver for consumers and cited the need to enhance product integrity systems of the Australian red meat industry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the economy and intensified the need for traceability and provenance of Australian red meat products sold in Australia and in new export markets.
Aglive, an Australian-based product traceability platform, is working alongside the MLA, Australian farmers, producers and agricultural industry bodies to provide food provenance to Australian produce and brands.
“If there is one positive to come out of this pandemic, it’s a vital recognition that our supply chain systems are outdated. Australians deserve the right to purchase high-quality, premium products and know that’s exactly what they’re getting. Farmers deserve to know that their premium products are not compromised along their journey. This is where Aglive steps in,” said Paul Ryan, managing director of Aglive.
Aglive’s platform was developed in collaboration with the MLA and has received support from leaders in the agricultural sector, including the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Macquarie University, AusTrade, ShineWing and the National Party.
The technology delivers solutions to supply-chain disruptions while protecting job security, as well as bringing vital income opportunities into the Australian economy.
Fourth-generation Australian Black Angus Beef farmer, Robert Mackenzie, has used Aglive’s traceability platform to successfully open new export channels to China, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Palestine.
“There is huge demand for premium Australian products in international markets but fraudulent and mislabelled products are threatening Australia’s reputation for high quality produce,” said Robert Mackenzie, of Macka’s Australian Black Angus Beef.
“Fraudulent parties mislabelling products as a premium Australian product is a crime, and a major national concern. Supply chain provenance and transparency will bring more revenue back into Australian businesses and generate new job opportunities. We are in full support of this vital initiative,” said the Hon. Dr. David Gillespie, Federal Member for Lyne.
Consumers are demanding more traceability and information on food provenance which is harming brand owners and the industry. The report points to Aglive’s traceability platform as a necessary solution.
“Aglive’s technology gives Australian farmers, producers and processors confidence in the global supply chain. The Department of Primary Industries are committed to innovation for the agricultural industry, especially those that protect and promote the providence of NSW Food and fibre. We are excited to be involved in this supply chain innovation developed by Aglive,” said Chris Celovic, national liaison manager, NSW Department of Primary Industries.
Aglive’s traceability platform can be applied to many packaged products to ensure traceability and provenance from their source right through to the end consumer.
As the global economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian farmers and brands must be able to guarantee the quality of their produce, to grow the industry and keep Australian manufacturing jobs.
Tasmania Oyster Co. (formally Shellfish Culture), with the assistance of a co-funding grant from the Federal Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC), will develop a new laser etching system to identify and trace its products across global markets.
The technology aims to differentiate Australia’s highly prized Pacific oysters, which are some of the few able to be consumed direct from the ocean due to pristine growing environments, from the highly farmed items that make up 80 per cent of the world oyster supply. To achieve this, Tasmania Oyster Co. has developed a new CO2 based laser etching process that allows the company to etch a brand mark (logo) on the oyster’s shell, providing customers with peace of mind concerning the quality and provenance of the product.
“Probably one of the biggest challenges is being able to distinguish our product from others, either here or in export markets. AMGC helped us expand our thinking to export markets,” Simon Rechner, project manager at Tasmanian Oyster Co.
“We think Australian oysters are some of the best in the world, but being able to market overseas is very difficult. An oyster sold in Singapore, Japan and Australia, without something on it to say where it comes from, could be from anywhere – our new technology changes that and gives us a great opportunity post-COVID to grow our brand.”
It is estimated the solution will increase the “product to price density” by $5 per dozen oysters sold, add $7 million to the Tasmanian oyster industry through the new authentication and marketing possibilities, and provide a $3.5 million increase in revenues to Tasmanian Oyster Co. through an estimated 25 per cent growth in exports.
Managing director of AMGC, Dr Jens Goennemann said opportunities for Australian manufacturers lie in competing on value not cost and brand Australia is in high demand right now.
“What Tasmanian Oyster Co. will do is add value to their product through the adoption of advanced technology, while also being able to highlight the country of origin for their products,” Goennemann said.
“In developing this new technology Tasmanian Oyster Co. will also streamline shellfish processing, open up the greater export potential for their products and, possibly, even exports of the new technology.”
Tasmanian Oyster Co.’s new technology will be rolled out to Tasmanian oyster growers, helping them present “a united front” in export markets. It will then be offered to growers in other states within the $112 million Australian oyster market and possibly other shellfish lines.
Successful completion of the project is expected to generate an additional twenty Australian jobs across the engineering, manufacturing, sales and service disciplines in the long-term.
A consultation document seeking the input of New Zealand’s fresh produce industry has been released this month as part of a project to assess and improve traceability within the industry.
With the New Zealand produce industry worth over $6 billion annually, the country’s traceability systems need to match its global reputation for quality.
United Fresh, New Zealand’s pan produce industry organisation representing more than 90 different organisations embarked on the Sustainable Farming Fund project, Effective Fresh Produce Traceability Systems in 2018 in response to global and local community health scares from food products.
With the majority of industry organisations around the country already utilising some sort of tracing within their own operation, Anne-Marie Arts, project director for United Fresh said much of the focus has been on how this tracking can be shared between each step of the supply chain and across all categories.
“We know that traceability in the New Zealand domestic produce supply chain is not working to a common standard, since each supply chain varies in its management of internal and external traceability, with external traceability working well in some cases, or not at all in others,” said Arts.
Even before the advent of a global pandemic, the source of our weekly grocery supplies was becoming more important. Food safety, environmental concerns and increasing awareness of health and wellness issues have led to increasing demands from consumers who want greater assurances about the provenance of their fruit and vegetables.
“Reliable traceability systems are no longer an optional extra in the produce industry, but a baseline requirement of increasing importance. Sophisticated shoppers as well as national food safety guidelines are providing strong impetus for the fresh produce industry to refine its systems,” said Arts.
The United Fresh project has resulted in the release of a set of Draft Produce Industry Traceability Guidelines, founded on the understanding that food safety is not negotiable for the entirety of the produce value chain.
Dr Hans Maurer, chair of United Fresh’s Technical Advisory Group, said the guidelines are intended as an opportunity for the industry to adopt its own traceability practices, an option regarded as preferable to an externally developed system created without industry input.
“We already have world-class produce in our supermarket aisles and world-class operating systems within many individual growing operations, but we see an opportunity to utilise technological advancements to enable data-sharing right across the produce industry, an advancement that would add value without generating significant costs to either consumer or grower.
“International markets are an important element of the industry’s strategic marketing effort. We need to demonstrate a high level of competence in food safety traceability efforts within our export supply chains as well as our domestic supply chain networks,” said Maurer.
Growers, packers, wholesalers, marketers and retailers across New Zealand have all been asked to comment on the work United Fresh and the project team has undertaken and offer feedback on how the draft guidelines can be further improved before its final version is published in 2021.
The consultation within the industry is expected to be completed by mid-October and United Fresh intends to follow the formal feedback process with a series of workshops to further explore the implications of the draft guidelines.
Health, safety and quality control are imperative when it comes to food production. However, despite the many precautions food manufacturers take to ensure the safety and quality of their products, the Australian government estimates there are 5.4 million cases of foodborne disease per year, costing A$1.2 billion annually.
Such alarming numbers have put the focus back on supply chain traceability. Food manufacturers face many challenges in managing perishable raw materials, making deliveries, tracking use-by dates and adhering to strict food safety regulations.
Juggling all these requirements, while trying to control cost and manage growth, can be tricky. Food manufacturers are constantly under pressure to deal with a high volume of raw material, balance numerous transactions and manage distribution difficulties at scale.
However, food manufacturers can ensure high quality across the supply chain by following these three basic strategies:
Manage expiration dates
The perishable nature of raw materials makes things tricky for food manufacturers. Closely monitoring the expiration dates of raw materials and final goods in real time can help manufacturers understand how fast a product needs to be moved or consumed. Doing so will not only help maintain the freshness of the product, but also reduce wastage as items won’t be left to expire on the shelf.
Focus on quality
For a food manufacturer, ensuring high quality across the supply chain is important because the end-product affects not only the health and well-being of consumers, but also of their company. Tracking your ingredients at every step of the production process can help minimise the risk of a product recall, and ensure your products are free from toxins or contaminants.
Overstocking is nothing but money lost in wastage. Whilst food manufacturers often face unpredictable supply and demand, overstocking will only make matters worse for your organisation. Failing to use material within its stipulated time can place your entire production unit at risk of contamination. It’s therefore critical to avoid overstocking and practice lean manufacturing to save money and reduce wastage.
Managing the many complex facets of the supply chain requires a great deal of effort. As a small manufacturer or a start-up, you might have found it easy to use spreadsheets or keep manual records to maintain business information. However, as your business grows, you will need a comprehensive software solution that protects your brand, minimises your losses and enables you to provide high quality products to your consumers.
Discover how software from Sage can help you enhance food and beverage supply chain management to maximise product quality and minimise wastage.
GS1 Australia, a not-for-profit standards organisation, has announced the establishment of an industry-led National Traceability Advisory Group.
The Advisory Group will provide advice on global standards for trade and traceability based on industry need and aligned with the role of government to ensure Australian industry maintains and builds sustainable capability, international market access and global competitiveness.
“The primary objective of the Advisory Group is to inform GS1 Australia on the requirements of industry and government for traceability standards,” said Marcel Sieira, chief customer officer at GS1 Australia.
“The group will play a key role in communicating, educating and co-defining a roadmap with industry and government for implementing end-to-end traceability and trade modernisation in Australia.”
GS1 Australia will not only provide the secretariat support for this industry group as well as providing expert, trusted advice and global best practices.
Ram Akella, business partner focusing on product traceability within the Woolworths Group has been appointed chair of the Advisory Group.
Woolworths Group has been actively participating in shaping the National Traceability Framework and taking a leadership position in demonstrating new ways to enable full traceability from the farm to the store.
“Global supply chains are continually being tested. This has been made more evident through recent, unprecedented events such as the global pandemic,” said Akella.
“Australian industry is well-positioned to lead and leverage the next wave of transformation and innovation in global and domestic markets based on enhanced traceability and trust.
“This transformation will require all sectors of industry and government to align on open global identification and data standards. The Advisory Group is a key step in bringing together key industry stakeholders from all sectors of the economy and segments of our supply chain who share a common interest in enhancing product traceability.”
Total-loss bills resulting from large recall events are having major impacts across the globe, in all manufacturing sectors. Quality Assurance Managers and Chief Operating Officers are understandably becoming increasingly overwhelmed in a complex environment where they cannot account for everything.
They are faced with increased focus on safety and regulation by authorities; complex global supply chains and cost cutting; an increase in malicious product tampering and extortion; and growing consumer awareness and the influence of social media, among other issues.
Therefore, traceability software, crisis management plans, and mock recall simulations are must-haves, rather than nice-to-haves, across the manufacturing and distribution sectors. You shouldn’t be hoping for the best, you should be planning for the worst!
Increased regulatory compliance requirements
As governments around the world attempt to increase food safety, they are increasing the regulatory requirements surrounding the sector, which includes the Food Standard Code for Australia and New Zealand. However, there are many other industries for whom traceability is just as important, including Healthcare, Freight and Supply Chain, Agriculture, Aerospace and Defence, Chemicals, Electronics, Automotive, Government, Paper, Plastics, as well as Printing and Packaging.
If your business does not have an effective traceability system, you can potentially be excluded from lucrative new business, or lose existing clients to those who can clearly show the effectiveness of their traceability system.
A not for profit organisation called GS1 Australia has set out to help Australian businesses from an increasing range of industry sectors adopt GS1 standards and to encourage local businesses to play a key role in developing and maintaining the standards on an ongoing basis. In terms of traceability, GS1 says that end-to-end supply chain visibility is available to all organisations to readily improve product safety, meet regulatory requirements, ensure product authenticity and provenance.
In Australia, the Australian Agriculture Senior Officials Committee (AGSOC) National Traceability Project has implemented the National Traceability Framework and Industry Action Plan template for enhancing Australia’s agricultural traceability systems. This enables tracing of agricultural production and products, back and forward along entire supply chains.
To position Australia to meet its emerging freight and supply chain challenges the Transport and Infrastructure Council endorsed the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy and National Action Plan in August 2019. This set an agenda for integrated national action across all freight modes over the next 20 years.
Developed by all Australian governments with extensive input from industry, the Strategy commits to national action including smarter and targeted infrastructure, enabling improved supply chain efficiency, better planning, coordination and regulation, as well as better freight location and performance data.
While regulatory compliance plays a big role in why organisations are increasingly instituting traceability systems, it’s just one of the reasons. Good management practice requires protection of the brand, which includes the ability to minimise risk before and mitigate damage during a recall when time is of the essence.
– Contributed by Paulo de Matos, SYSPRO Chief Product Officer.
Want to learn more? Join our Live Panel Discussion and Q&A webinar with Syed Shah, Managing Editor of Manufacturers’ Monthly, and Product Operations Manager at SYSPRO, Roger Landman, to discuss implementing a robust traceability system and a failsafe recall management plan. Register here.
Nestlé Australia today announced the immediate recall of certain batches of Uncle Tobys Roll-Ups due to the possible presence of small metal fragments.
The affected products are being recalled because an ingredient supplier has advised Nestlé that equipment failure in their facility has led to the possible presence of small metal fragments in an ingredient supplied to Nestlé used to manufacture the products.
The products being recalled are:
Uncle Tobys Roll-Ups Passionfruit, Rainbow Berry, Rainbow Fruit Salad and Funprints Strawberry, all of which were produced between 29th June and 14th July.
General Manager Snacks, Susan Catania, said these batches have been sold in major, independent and online retailers since early December.
“If you have purchased any of these products, please do not consume it, but return it to the place of purchase for a full refund,” Catania said.
Catania confirmed that other batches and products are not affected, and that Nestlé had not received any complaints from consumers regarding metal in Uncle Tobys Roll-Ups.
“As soon as we were made aware of the issue we made contact with authorities to conduct a recall and notified all relevant retailers,” Ms Catania said.
Food products containing foreign matter may cause illness or injury to consumers. Anyone who is concerned about their health should seek medical advice.
Consumers seeking more information can contact Nestlé on 1800 152 126
The Department of Agriculture is inviting applications for grants worth $4 million to fund projects to enhance traceability in the food supply chain, enhancing trust in Australian-grown products and boosting the competitiveness of agricultural exporters.
Australia’s reputation as a source of clean, green and safe products has helped secure a strong foothold in dynamic Asian markets seeking healthy, nutritious food.
Effective traceability systems are critical for continued access to these export markets, responding to demand from consumers domestically and internationally for greater transparency and real time convenience around the origins and safety of food in modern digital marketplaces.
An initial $4 million round of Traceability Grants Program funding, opening from January 8, will be available to individuals, communities, government or private sector organisations, as well as agricultural export industries, to enhance traceability in supply chains.
The program will provide opportunities for successful applicants to carry out projects that enhance product traceability and the competitiveness of Australian produce, for example by supporting assertions around organic or location-specific production.
The Traceability Grants Program is part of the Modernising Agricultural Trade agenda announced by the Australian Government to support the target of a $100 billion agricultural sector by 2030. The $7 million program will run over a minimum of two rounds from the end of 2019 to June 2023.
The Traceability Grants Program Opportunity Guidelines set out how the program will operate. The round will open Wednesday 8 January 2020 and will close 21 February 2020.
As the challenges of food safety intensify throughout the world, so does the need for global traceability. Consumers put their trust in the food they eat, and the supply chains that deliver those products. Yet, supply chains are becoming more complex, and with that complexity comes risk.
Digital supply chains
Brands are faced with difficulties like managing product recalls and meeting the demands of consumers wanting to know more about the food they buy.
As digitalisation in the supply chain accelerates, alignment between trading partners is essential to achieve transparency.
There is a renewed sense of urgency for collaboration to create an “ecosystem”, where traceability solutions can easily “talk” to each other and share information between trading partners and consumers.
Senior global food industry influencers, including director at Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Veronique Discours-Buhot, shared their view on the future of traceability and the need for information sharing, “In order to really demonstrate value, traceability systems must be interoperable, easy to use and a real turnkey solution for collaboration,” said Discours-Buhot.
GS1 traceability – a solid foundation
GS1 has developed a technology-neutral framework that uses common identifiers, such as barcodes, to automatically collect and provide access to information across every step of the food supply chain, delivering visibility of products as they travel from grower to customer.
The information captured by GS1 barcodes, Data Matrix or RFID tags, contains unique global identification numbers.
These form the foundation to enable collaboration between producers, manufacturers, trading partners, consumers and regulators. It also helps link corporate and customer information in a clear and systematic way. In the future they will also enable the automation of laws and regulations.
GS1 Australia provides organisations with the added advantage of national “building blocks” and making traceability implementation possible in full alignment with other stakeholders in their sectors. These building blocks consist of:
• HACCP-certified national recall system
• National product catalogue
• National locations registry
• Consulting and Training network
The GFSI and GS1 serve the same members of the global food supply chain. Both organisations are grounded in a belief in standards and collaboration, working together to shape a better ecosystem of traceability solutions.
GFSI focusses on setting high-level food safety requirements, while GS1 focuses on how organisations can design and implement traceability solutions. Solutions that meet industry best practices and enable end-to-end interoperability and transparency.
Retailers, suppliers, distributors, and consumers are all demanding fast, accurate and complete information that can be seamlessly accessed from anywhere across the supply chain.
Questions from trading partners, consumers and regulatory authorities such as; Where was it grown? Who was involved in the supply chain? Was it produced following food safety practices? require accurate and timely responses. Information to respond to these questions is often spread across different areas and systems in the supply chain. If traceability systems are interoperable, they can easily collaborate and share information, providing greater visibility across the entire supply chain.
Another key factor for interoperable traceability is adaptable solutions.
These solutions should leverage investments based on proven technologies and make use of what is already in place (e.g. logistic labels, barcode scanners) within each company and/or its trading partners.
Big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain and smart everything
Emerging technologies are bringing new opportunities for managing food safety. Yet technology alone will not provide global traceability.
Those developing blockchain solutions for supply chain challenges need to understand that, without common identifiers, the latest technology and devices will not be a cure-all. They run the risk of becoming another isolated system unable to integrate with existing systems.
For traceability to thrive, all stakeholders must come together and cooperate. Open, global standards, such as the GS1 Global Traceability Standard, will enable the use of technologies and automation within food production, processing and delivery processes for end-to-end traceability.
A foundation for interoperable traceability
The GS1 Global Traceability Standard provides a foundation for interoperable traceability systems, making it possible for:
• Different traceability systems to use a common language to talk to each other.
• Organisations to access, combine and interpret data from a variety of sources across the end-to-end supply chain.
• Each trading partner to choose the GS1-enabled traceability solution that best meets its specific needs.
We all win with traceability
When we collaborate, recalls can be faster and more precise, sustainability efforts can be strengthened, and customer trust can be elevated.
All of this is possible with GS1 interoperable and transparent traceability.
Alibaba (Australia) and a group of founding partners have launched pilot orders through its new Food Trust Framework, a Tmall Global initiative that uses blockchain technology to improve supply chain traceability.
Taking place in Auckland, New Zealand, and hosted by CEO of Alibaba Group, Daniel Zhang, the pilot follows Alibaba’s announcement last year that it would engage PwC in Australia, New Zealand and China as a service provider to advise the company on the set up of a framework to protect product authenticity and provide a safe and trusted marketplace for consumers. Alibaba also signed a Memorandum of Understanding last year partnering with Blackmores, Australia Post, Fonterra and New Zealand Post in the Framework.
Blackmores and Fonterra are the first companies to trial the Food Trust Framework, shipping products from Australia and New Zealand to China. Blackmores is shipping Odorless Fish Oil while Fonterra is shipping Anchor dairy products to consumers who purchase them on Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform. Once the pilot is complete and if successful, the Framework could form the basis of a global supply chain model applied across all of Alibaba Group’s e-commerce markets.
The Framework aims to achieve end-to-end supply chain traceability and transparency to enhance consumer confidence and build a trusted environment for cross-border trade across Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform by incorporating a range of standards and controls to manage the supply chain process, including blockchain technology and product tagging with unique QR codes. These technologies are designed to authenticate, verify, record and provide ongoing reporting of the transfer of ownership and provision of products and goods.
Recognisng the significance and importance of an independent view as to the operation and application of the Framework, PwC plans to provide services to the participants. An independent assessment of the Framework aims to provide the visibility and transparency of the level of adherence to the Framework by participants in the supply chain, including consideration of existing reporting and practices.
The Framework represents the next step in Alibaba’s vision to build the future infrastructure of commerce and will help give confidence to producers, merchants, logistics providers and consumers alike.
Speaking at the launch in Auckland, Alibaba Group’s Alvin Liu, General Manager of Tmall Import & Export said: “Food fraud is a significant global challenge, particularly with the growing complexity of supply chains. In response, we have created a coordinated, world-leading and robust framework that involves stakeholders from across the supply chain to improve visibility and enhance the confidence of both end consumers and merchants.”
Food fraud costs the global food industry an estimated US$40bn each year, according to research from the Michigan State University. PwC has also estimated that 40 per cent of food companies find food fraud difficult to detect with current methods, and 39 per cent think their products are easy to counterfeit.
“Blackmores goes to extraordinary lengths to have visibility over our supply chain and each of our products passes 30 tests and checks before it is released for sale. So we’re exploring ways to leverage the technology and data that can provide our consumers with assurance that their trust in our products is well-placed,” said Richard Henfrey, Blackmores Chief Executive Officer. “Our commitment to quality doesn’t end in our distribution centre and we need to give consumers confidence in the products they purchase on e-commerce platforms.”
Fonterra President Greater China, Christina Zhu, said: “Fonterra delivers global best practice supply chain traceability through our existing technology. Given the potential of emerging tech, including blockchain, we want to be at the forefront of developing food quality and safety standards across the supply chain. In China and many other markets, we know consumers want to be able to trace the products they purchase online, so we welcome being a part of creating a globally respected framework that protects the reputation of food companies and gives greater value and consumer confidence.”
It is crucial we have a global set of standards across the food and beverage industry to support the rise of the digital era which is all about quality data and accuracy of information. Syed Shah interviewed Maria Palazzolo, executive director and CEO of GS1 Australia, about this goal.
Maria Palazzolo (pictured below) has seen the gradual evolution of business over the last 35 years. Through this period, she has worked with businesses of all sizes and in a range of sectors – always towards a vision of the future. A vision where all companies and their supply chains have full visibility of the products they are trading. Where recalls can be affected in minutes, not weeks. Where everyone can share in the benefits of the greater efficiencies created, including consumers.
The vision is possible today. It’s possible through the adoption of the standards and solutions provided by the GS1 system. Palazzolo’s goal now is to see those standards implemented at a whole of industry level, and her vision become reality.
For over 40 years, GS1 Australia has dedicated itself to the design and implementation of global standards for efficient business communication and to build smarter supply chains. Today, the GS1 system of standards is the global language of business to identify, capture and share information about products moving efficiently and securely up and down supply chains all over the world.
Efficient standards ensure effective exchanges between companies, facilitate interoperability and provide structure to the exchange of data in many industries. Using GS1 standards brings together companies representing all parts of the supply chain – manufacturers, distributors, retailers, hospitals, transporters, customs organisations, software developers, regulatory authorities and more.
The generic blueprint of GS1 standards
Palazzolo explained that standards form the core business of the GS1 philosophy. And users of GS1 standards make it possible for the right product to be in the right place at the right time.
“We sometimes need to go back to where it all began to put things into perspective about GS1. In 1973, industry leaders in the US selected a single standard for product identification that is still used today and known as the GS1 barcode, named recently by the BBC as one of the 50 things that made the world economy,” she said.
Five years later, GS1 Australia became the Australian member of the global GS1 organisation and major Australian retailers began to adopt the GS1 system of barcoding and numbering as their preferred standard for trade. GS1 began to roll out value-added services to support the implementation of these standards by its members.
“Nearly 40 years have passed since the GS1 barcode revolutionised the way we do business in Australia but on many occasions, I still have people ask me, ‘Who is GS1 and what do you do?’. In many ways, we are the world’s best kept secret because when you think about what GS1 does to help businesses get their products from the manufacturer to the retailer and consumer, the GS1 system touches pretty much everyone around the world almost every single day,” said Palazzolo.
“Chances are, if you’re a consumer of something, you would have most likely come across and been a part of the GS1 system in action. Shoppers at major supermarket stores in Australia will hear the familiar beep of the GS1 barcode at the checkout, although it is unlikely that many of them will realise that each of those beeps is GS1 standards at work. The GS1 barcode still remains the most widely used identification system and supply chain standard in the world.”
Global standards for identification
Palazzolo explained that the food and beverage industry in Australia is one of the most advanced industries in its adoption of GS1 standards to ensure best practice within its supply chains.
The GS1 system is a common foundation for businesses that enables unique identification, accurate data capture and automatic sharing of vital information about products, locations, shipments assets and more. Within the GS1 system, barcodes are just one part of the technology available to carry the unique GS1 identifiers.
Simply, the GS1 system provides a common language for all local and global businesses to communicate with each other and exchange information. This builds efficiency and accuracy, reducing the need to exchange data in multiple different ways with multiple trading partners.
Standards for traceability and food safety
The humble barcode, seen today on every consumer product, has served us well for a long time. But it must support today’s world where information needs to be more readily available, and consumers expect to know more about what they are buying. Food and beverage companies need the ability to track and trace their products and have full visibility throughout their supply chains.
Traceability is an important part of an organisation’s product recall management plan. Without an effective traceability process in place, delays in actioning a product recall can escalate into a crisis.
The speed and effectiveness with which a product recall is communicated to retailers and government authorities has implications for not only the consumer, but a business’s reputation.
To protect the security of the Australian food chain and the safety of consumers, the implementation of GS1 standards allows visibility of product, up and down the supply chain. By using GS1 standards, recalled products can to be traced quickly and efficiently back to the source of origin.
Issuing a recall or withdrawal with GS1 Australia’s Recall service is simple, fast and inexpensive. Based on global GS1 standards, Recall is a centralised online portal designed to streamline the management of product recall and withdrawal notifications.
“All food and beverage companies have different kinds of traceability systems within their organisations. The common denominator across all of those systems is that they have to identify the product they want to trace. For instance, a certain bag of sugar or wheat among thousands of bags – each uniquely identified so that it can be traced back to its source. The use of GS1 standards allows for this complete traceability, not only within an organisation, but also across all organisations within their supply chains,” said Palazzolo.
“So, put simply, if everyone used one single global standard they would have the ability to have total traceability of their products from raw material through to the end customer, the consumer.”
Palazzolo explained that with the GS1 system, every bag could have a serial number containing, among other things, data on location, manufacturing process, product ingredients, handling and where the raw materials were sourced.
For GS1, food safety and reducing errors are of utmost importance.
“Avoiding these errors and protecting consumers from any harm is a responsibility that all manufacturers take very seriously and by having robust traceability systems in place they can avoid irreversible damages,” said Palazzolo.
GS1 standards exist today that can encode data such as batch/lot numbers, use-by and best-before dates and other product attributes at all levels of packaging from bulk materials to single produce items and finished goods.
GS1 Australia recently introduced a new type of barcode called the GS1 Databar for loose produce to complement existing barcodes. This barcode not only increases the number of products that can be automatically identified at retail point of sale, but also creates new opportunities to solve today’s retail business problems such as enhanced and wider category management, product authentication, traceability, stock control, product replenishment, variable measure product identification and shrink control.
The GS1 Databar is currently being rolled out in Australia for loose “produce only”, such as apples, citrus and pears in this first implementation. Soon, it will be applied to other fresh items including meat and cheese to better manage stock rotations and sales accuracy.
Getting the ball rolling towards a standardised industry
Palazzolo explained that, globally and locally, the food and beverage industry still has some way to go in terms of the use of a single standard that will assist in traceability. She explained that the industry needs to get connected along different supply chains. She believes that all suppliers and manufacturers (raw materials, packaging, transport, logistics, etc.) need to be aligned in order to make this happen.
“I think that the industry needs to ask questions like ‘How do we create a completely seamless supply chain without information barriers that stop products from being accurately identified because they are not using global standards?’,” said Palazzolo. She said that this should be done not only for the purpose of traceability and to create food safety, but also, to make a business smarter and more efficient.
“The potential for what the GS1 standards can do within an organisation, in my view, in Australia, still has a long way to go but I remain hopeful because it is the logical way to go, especially as the world becomes more digital and more reliant on accurate shared data. At the moment, there are still many companies that are using their proprietary manual systems that have been in place for a long time. They don’t feel the need to change because they don’t fully understand the benefits of automating their processes and using a common global standard,” said Palazzolo.
She said that GS1 provides education and training for member companies as well as consultancy on how to implement the GS1 system.
“The food and beverage industry has led the way in the adoption of GS1 standards and we are looking forward to continuing to work in close partnership with the industry to shape the future of traceability and food safety initiatives for the benefit of the business, the brand and the consumer,” she said.
In summer 2017, 15 EU states, Switzerland and Hong Kong were affected by the Fipronil contamination scandal. The scandal originated in the Netherlands but had global effects. Around ten million tainted eggs were imported into Germany, with not only eggs themselves being contaminated, but also egg products such as sandwich fillers. Here, Shan Zhan, Global Business Manager for Food & Beverage within the ABB Control Technologies business unit, looks at what the scandal can teach food manufacturers about the importance of traceability processes.
One of the main concerns from the scandal was that authorities in the Netherlands had become aware of the illegal use of insecticide Fipronil in November 2016, which is not fit for human consumption. Due to a series of administrative errors and a lack of collaboration between authorities, the European commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), was not informed until July 2017, when the eggs were pulled from shelves across Europe.
Another concern was that the two perpetrators of the crime launched their product at a farming convention in March 2016, selling it as a miracle cure for lice infestation in chickens. When poultry farmers asked about the ingredients of the product, they were told it was secret and no further questions appeared to have been asked.
Food manufacturers have a lot to learn from this crisis. From the importance of traceability and knowing exactly what is used on products from farm to fork, to keeping an accurate record of data in the case of a similar scandal, the Fipronil contamination scandal emphasizes the need for an automation system that can perform these tasks as standard.
For the supermarkets who had used the eggs in recipes for other items, fortunately, their traceability procedures were strong enough to ensure that the products could be removed from the shelves and the food chain. All food manufacturers across the world, no matter what the local regulation, should be in the very least compliant with the ISO 22005:2007 standard for traceability in the feed and food chain.
This allows organisations to accurately record data pertaining to their products, including everything from the feed being used to the ingredients and packaging, and ensures that the necessary documentation is intact. Compliance to the standard also means that the different suppliers and authorities involved are constantly kept up to date.
There are two factors to improving traceability and ensuring minimum compliance to this standard. The first is the human factor. While it is vital to have standard operating procedures for traceability (SOPs) in a food processing facility, such as scanning an ingredient on receipt, employees are often responsible for doing this. Without this, no matter how good the control system, it will never be effective. The manufacturer must therefore ensure that all staff follow SOPs, using any method they deem necessary.
The second factor to improve traceability procedures is having a complete automation control system. This should gather data from every level of automation to feed back to the central Manufacturing Execution System (MES) or Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM). The implementation of effective SOP’s as well as complete traceability is supported by the MOM system.
From the first level of automation such as sensors at the feed level, the MES must process all this information, such as the timestamp, what supplier the product has come from, and which operator has handled the product. This must then be converted into production data, for the plant manager to review.
The MOM system guides the operators and ensures that they are performing their tasks in the correct way, avoiding deviations and non-conformances. In addition, all the relevant data such as material lots, quantities, test results and process parameters are collected along the complete process to ensure complete forward and backward traceability.
Not only does this information form a useful backup in the event of a food scandal, it allows the plant manager to see where there are stoppages in production and to review quality control, for example to see how quickly perishable products pass through the plant and make it to the customer.
Having such a comprehensive log of data can ensure that the food processing facility is prepared in the event of a recall or contamination scandal. This data can then identify where products need to be destroyed, and is able to present the data to the customers and authorities. Only by leaving no gaps in data collection, and ensuring that all parts of the manufacturing process are automated and connected to the overarching system, can food manufacturers learn from the mistakes of the Fipronil scandal.
SmartFreight, a leading Australian global freight software provider, has embraced the recommendations in Austroads’ supply chain visibility report for Australian industry to adopt Global Data Standards (GDS) to improve freight visibility and supply chain efficiencies.
The SmartFreight solution has successfully completed GS1 Australia’s Transport Software Certification process. SmartFreight users are now able to generate freight labels according to the GS1 global supply chain standards outlined in the Australian Freight Labelling Guideline.
GS1 supply chain standards enable parties across the supply chain to operate more efficiently with improved freight visibility using a common standard for identifying, labelling and sharing data relating to the movement of freight units.
The GS1 Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) is a globally unique freight unit identifier used to uniquely identify each freight unit from origin to destination.
Kerry Holmes, Managing Director Australia and New Zealand at SmartFreight said, “SmartFreight fully support the Australian Freight Labelling Standards, based on GS1 open global standards. The GS1 system is the most widely used supply chain standards system in the world, enabling increased visibility and reduced costs across the supply chain, which ultimately helps all Australians.”
GS1 Australia’s Senior Advisor – Trade, Transport & Heavy Industry, Michiel Ruighaver said, “We are very pleased that SmartFreight have embraced GS1 global supply chain standards and look forward to assisting them and their clients to improve efficiency and freight visibility within their supply chains.”
The SSCC can be used to uniquely identify any type of logistic unit including satchels, cartons, crates and pallets.
Australia’s biosecurity will be further strengthened by the delivery of a national reporting scheme for the pork industry.
The move brings the pork industry in line with the cattle, sheep and goat industries.
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud welcomed mandatory reporting of all pig movements under the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS), which will be introduced by all state and territory governments from this week.
“Strong traceability is a key part of a strong biosecurity system,” Littleproud said.
“The NLIS for pork, known as PigPass, uses ear tags or tattoos to identify animals. All pig movements onto farms, saleyards, showgrounds and abattoirs are documented in a database using a National Vendor Declaration. This database is used by state and territory governments to trace livestock in an emergency.
“Pigpass means animals can be identified quickly and allows the property of birth and residence to be easily located if there were ever a food safety issue or exotic disease outbreak.
“This would be important if Australia had say a foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak—it would help find the source of disease and stop its spread.
“PigPass will help Australia keep its excellent reputation for delivering high quality and safe produce.
“The pork industry is important to regional Australia worth more than $1.3 billion with over 1400 pork farms across this nation.
“I encourage farmers and processors to familiarise themselves with PigPass.”
Detectament has released a new batch of tough traceability tags that are both metal detectable and heat shock resistant, ensuring the delivery of reliable data and batch identity systems.
As the batch is processed the tag shows an identity to be linked to the data and to the critical events unique to its processing journey. If that identity is lost or destroyed, the batch cannot be linked to the data.
According to Detectament’s Managing Director James Chrismas, “Customers around the world have asked for detectable tags that will survive in a hot/cold processing environment. Four layers of material are laminated for strength and metal detectability and it can be identified and rejected by standard end of line metal detection systems.”
Alongside resistance to tearing within the food processing environment, the new tags have a traditional shape that loops through a keyhole cut-out.
Detectament also released Permanent Fine Marker Pens which are ideal for writing on the tags and for recording product ID, date/time, batch code and use by dates.
These tags can be supplied in yellow or blue as standard, with other colours available when ordered in sufficient quantities. Tailor made graphics can also be ordered, and size variations are available to suit customers’ specific needs subject to minimum order quantities.