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Food traceability program to build trust in Australia's food supply chains

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Australia’s food safety systems will be strengthened by the delivery of a new national implementation program to help track and trace food products from farm to fork in domestic and export markets.

The industry-led program, co-designed by Deakin University’s Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics (CSCL), includes an Australian-first Implementing Food Traceability Guide, plus product specific guides and industry demonstrations that will enable greater visibility along the entire food supply chain.

Dr Hermione Parsons, Industry Professor and Director of CSCL, said the program would help supply chains achieve end-to-end traceability and lift capability across the sector from small producers and food manufacturers to large-scale enterprises.

“This package is about building national consistency and integrity into Australia’s food traceability systems,” Dr Parsons said.

“It will ensure industry can better respond to product recalls and will give consumers greater certainty about the source of the products they buy.

“The framework was co-designed in CSCL Food Traceability Lab, a partnership of the private sector, peak industry bodies and government agencies, and gives stakeholders across an agrifood supply chain product visibility and the ability to share relevant product and event data with others along the chain.

“Food suppliers will be able to trace back and authenticate genuine product as supplied and enable regulators to confirm that correct information relating to a product has been entered into border clearance and compliance processes and platforms,” Dr Parsons said.

Mr Ram Akella, from Food Co Metro and Product Traceability at Woolworths said the need to address customer queries, verify product claims, process product recalls and maintain product integrity with speed and accuracy was fundamental to food enterprises as was the need to know what information to collect and what to share while protecting multiple commercial interests.

“When food products pass through the supply chain - whether animal, plant, grain or grocery item - we need to know where the product has been, when and how it was handled and who was involved,” Mr Akella said.

“By building full product traceability in parallel with regulatory compliance, we will further enhance Brand Australia in both domestic and global markets.

“Using a standard framework and data model means any technology platform or solution can apply a consistent format and the data can be shared with other partners in the supply chain,” Mr Akella said. 

The first industry funders of the National Food Traceability Program include Lab members - the MLA’s Integrity Systems Company and the Woolworths Group. GS1 Australia is applying global data standards and is supporting solution providers.

Dr Parsons said the first generic traceability modules relate to On-farm Production and Exporting, and encouraged organisations involved in these activities to have input to these modules commencing in July.

To become an Implementing Food Traceability sponsor, for further information regarding the National Food Traceability Program, or to provide input to the Guide modules, please contact the Program Manager, Rose Elphick-Darling, T: 03 92468810 E: rose.elphickdarling@deakin.edu.au