Why is traceability important?
As the agricultural sector intensifies and food is shipped globally, food safety is becoming a major concern. Where does our food come from? How can consumers trust food that is produced far away from their homes, often in countries where legislation regarding for example, the use of pesticides is absent, or enforcement is weak?
Measuring residue levels of agrochemicals or microbiological contamination in the final product can be done to some extend but is a huge additional cost and often a burden for the environment. Therefore, the focus in the food industry has always been on process control. Where in the process could something go wrong? By mapping the process and analyzing the food safety hazards, these can be reduced. This process is commonly known as HACCP, which stands for Hazard Allowance Critical Control Points. For example, when engine oil is transported on the back of same truck that is used to carry sacks of cocoa beans, this could easily result in contaminations of the cocoa throughout the cocoa value chain. Traces on mineral oil can end up in the chocolate bar. In fact, as detection methods improve constantly, the large industrial companies, such as Nestle, Ferrero Rocher and Mars, do check for residues of pesticides. As detection methods improve it is possible to raise the bar, but also the costs… Mineral oil contaminations, or MOSH/MOAH, are forming a huge challenge while they could not easily detect low contamination levels until recently. However, checking the contamination in the raw material, at the buying centres for example, would only partially assist to reduce contamination risks. It is important to be able to trace the contamination backwards in the chain. In other words; trace the produce from the factory, to the farmer cooperative, to the bag, to the collection centre, to the farmer and his or her field that the cocoa beans came from. This is where the more challenging part starts. READ MORE