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Company name: Your company logo _
  Name/EAN Amount Best before / use by
PRODUCT: Hamburger 1 pound 06/28
Ingredients: Lean ground beef 1 ½ pounds 06/31
  Onion ½ 06/30
  Hamburger bun 1 pc 06/29

The easiest way to solve food traceability

Everyone who works in the food business knows that food traceability together with food recall are definitely one of the most challenging areas in the HACCP plan. Also creating a product traceability checklist is a pain among all other food safety checklists. Usually, business owners don’t think about traceability before anything has happened, and then it’s already too late.

Starting with questions like - who needs to do it, why, and how often, are just the beginning of this topic. As it can be a very thorough and time-consuming process, product traceability is often not correctly carried out and causes serious trouble. In this article, we try to make the traceability topic as easy as possible to understand and follow.

Feel free to use our food traceability sheet template above this article. Just replace the words on the form when needed and download. All other important and most wanted documents' templates of your HACCP plan are found in the HACCP plan free template hub.


What is food traceability and why do I need it?

Food traceability means being able to track your ingredients and food items throughout your production supply chain.

Product traceability


It enables you to trace and follow your food product through all stages of product reception, production, processing, and distribution to your customers.

Food traceability must include:

STEP 1 – One step backward, raw materials delivery, where did your ingredients come from?

STEP 2 - During the food processing

STEP 3 - One step forward, food dispatch sheet, where did your food go?

As a result, product traceability sheets help to reduce contamination, decrease food fraud, and decrease foodborne illnesses in the supply chain by recognizing hazards before the affected products reach your consumer.

For example, contaminated food can contain dangerous additives such as major allergens that are not marked on the packaging. A non-functioning traceability system can have a huge financial impact on your business.

A proper food traceability system together with a food recall system allows you to quickly identify and isolate the source, and lessen the impact before it can have a serious consequence for your customers and your reputation. In the event of a product recall, production traceability enables a targeted withdrawal of the foods. In summary, product traceability is an important risk management tool.


Who should monitor food traceability? 

Traceability standards and obligation to record your traceability checklist vary in different countries, food industry sectors, business processes, and raw materials. For example, in some countries, food traceability applies to all food businesses’ raw materials and the whole production. While in some countries it applies only to products of animal origin, fish, and sprouted seeds, and raw materials with the highest risk. Also, in some states and countries, there is a product traceability list that determines which food businesses the product traceability obligation applies to. Sometimes it also depends on your production process or business activity. In some countries, traceability applies to production and retail businesses only and food service is free from this obligation. So, it’s really hard to give one correct answer. To find it out, contact your local food safety consultant or local authorities. 


Why is food traceability so challenging?

The biggest issue in food traceability is marking down products’ and ingredients’ data, including names, amounts, and best before dates. The high volume of products and different batches make the process of production traceability slow and time-consuming. Also, as pen-and-paper is still the most common food traceability solution in most countries, archiving data and product recalls are also challenging topics. Finding the necessary data takes so much time that the damage is done before anyone could find the needed traceability sheet.


What is the easiest way to trace products?

When filling food traceability records, you need to keep in mind all 3 steps mentioned above - One step backward; During the food processing; One step forward.

Our recommendation for smaller food businesses with less volume is, whenever possible, reduce repetitions like:

  1. Using delivery notes or an ERP system to track the first step - raw materials delivery. This means you should use invoices, receipts, and delivery notes to trace the origin of the raw materials.
  2. Using ERP or POS systems to trace and follow the food dispatch part (step 3 above). All of your invoices should include to whom, on which date, and which product was sold. Use this information when tracing the products also.

Like this, you can skip the first and the last steps and fill the food traceability sheet only for the food processing part.

Product traceability


What if something happens?

Food traceability importance comes up when something happens and you need to start thinking about the product recall. Take the well-known melamine scandal in China for example, where baby milk products were mixed with a high amount of fake protein. This case could have been solved by using traceability, avoiding the fact of 294,000 affected children.

As you see, it’s extremely important to have a proper food traceability system working together with a food recall template that helps to save your time and to react quickly when anything happens. Digital food traceability solutions are the best ones because of the easy and fast food recall possibility. With a digital solution, the recall can be done in seconds, instead of days and weeks, not to mention the financial loss that can occur.


Keep in mind that food traceability records should be kept as long as the food product is in circulation.


What documents do I need for food traceability?

Let’s face it, the local authorities' visit and inspection can break your business. Your food traceability documents have to be ready for the audit at any time. Up-to-date traceability documentation is one of the first signs to authorities that your facility takes food safety seriously and is ready for inspection.


Important production traceability documents include:

1. All delivery notes, invoices, and receipts of your purchases.

2. Traceability records for your production. Feel free to use the template above, or even better, use a digital one.

3. Invoices for your customers or a proper ERP or POS system.

4. HACCP plan risk analysis that covers traceability.


Not sure where to start with your production traceability and all other food safety checklists? Don't have enough time? FoodDocs platform can direct you through the whole HACCP process and get your food traceability documents done in no time, so you can focus on what you really need to – managing your business.


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