To view PDF files, you must have a copy of the Adobe Acrobat Reader which is available as a free download:
Traceability systems are an important way of minimizing risk and dealing with any problems quickly and efficiently. They track the path of a product or ingredient from the initial supplier through all processing and distribution stages, right to the end consumer.
This page explains the advantages of traceability, the characteristics and types of traceability systems, CFIA requirements, how to verify traceability systems and traceability requirements around the world.On other pages you can learn about traceability service providers, how RFID technology is used for traceability in the food processing industry and preparing for a food recall.
Contact the CVO/Food Safety Knowledge Centre by email.
For general information, contact your local GO Office.
A traceability system allows the food industry to:
Basic characteristics of a traceability system include:
Traceability systems can be manual or computer based. Small companies manufacturing limited numbers of products with simple formulas, short shelf-lives and fewer customers may find paper-based, manual systems adequate. Large companies may find computerized systems more reliable and efficient.
Computerized systems can help:
Several steps can be followed to establish a tracing system:
Buying food products means placing trust in the producers and processors. One way producers earn that trust is by being able to trace every ingredient they use. Traceability systems rely on recording information accurately. Employees play a major role in ensuring food is traceable and those who do not follow established food traceability policies place the integrity of all food processors at risk. Training employees is essential to increase awareness, understanding and competence in food preparation and traceability.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) requires food operators to document the names and addresses of their suppliers and customers, as well as the nature of the product and date of delivery. Operators are also encouraged to keep information on the volume or quantity of a product, the batch number and more detailed descriptions of the product, such as whether it is raw or processed. In the event of a recall, producers must be able to provide this information to the CFIA. Their office of food safety and recall can be contacted in Manitoba at 204-229-9896.
It is a good idea to verify that a traceability system works well before it is needed. Being able to identify recalled products quickly helps control the scope of the recall and helps with removing the products from distribution quickly and accurately. To do this, you must be able to trace your raw ingredients, packaging materials and finished products.
If you cannot identify a specific ingredient, you may have to recall more product than is necessary. Incorrect identification of a product during a first recall is likely to lead to subsequent recalls.
Traceability systems need to be checked to determine if they meet the following objectives:
CFIA has developed a guide to help in the event of a food recall. You can use the guide to help perform a mock recall to identify and correct problems with your recall plans.
A heightened modern day threat of international terrorism includes the real possibility of intentional food supply contamination. Governments and the food processing industry need to be on guard. Observing voluntary and mandatory practices in food safety and traceability will help prevent incidents. Good organization and reliable documentation will also help identify and contain contamination rapidly, should an incident take place.
Importers to the U.S. are required to maintain records that identify the immediate sources of their foods. Processors are required to create these records at the time of processing. They must maintain these records for at least two years and make them available to the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) within four hours, if requested. The Bioterrorism Act of 2002 requires domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture, process, pack or import food for human consumption in the United States to register with the USFDA. For more information visit Bioterrorism and Drug Preparedness.
Can-Trace is a voluntary, industry-led, collaborative and open initiative committed to developing traceability standards for all food products sold in Canada. It seeks to define and develop minimum requirements for national whole-chain tracking and tracing standards. More information on Can-Trace webpage.
Other regulations or standards that include traceability requirements when importing food products include: