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Increasing food safety and traceability

09 December 20216 min reading

As consumers become more aware of food safety issues, actors all along food value chains must be equipped with the ability to meet consumer demands. A critical component of administering food safety standards is the ability to trace products from their origin through the supply chain, isolate threats, and recall contaminated products when needed. Traceability systems can advance producer access to markets and improve food safety for consumers.

World food production faces a tremendous challenge due to the growing population. The global population is estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050 with 70% more food being required. Safe food is an important dimension of food security. All agricultural food ingredients carry food safety risks that need to be understood and mitigated. Therefore, regulations on food safety are becoming more stringent in grain processing industries. 

It is necessary to implement international standards, guidelines and recommendations for the production of safe foods. This includes developing the necessary analytical capacity to detect and monitor food contaminants such as residues of pesticides and mycotoxins during the production process and in finished food products.

A relatively new development in systems for the control of food safety and quality is the focus on the traceability of foods. The ability to demonstrate the origin and the authenticity of food products is a major concern to food safety regulators and to trading partners due to increasing mobility and cross-border transportation of food commodities. Failure to securely characterize food quality and safety parameters has been shown not only to have devastating economic consequences but also to create potential human health problems. Food traceability touches upon a range of diversified interests of all stakeholders in the food production chain: consumers are concerned that the food they eat is safe and correctly labeled, producers that the commodity they process and trade is not adulterated or subject to fraud, and legislators to demonstrate that food safety and quality parameters are met.

Traceability reduces contamination, disease, and spoilage in the food supply by identifying hazards before affected products make it to end consumer markets. When unsafe foods slip through the cracks and enter the system, these systems allow market actors to identify and isolate the source quickly in order to mitigate the consequences. In the event of a product recall, traceability enables a targeted withdrawal of the foods most likely to have been affected, thereby minimizing waste and market distortions.

Employing a traceability system, tracing food from ‘farm to fork’, has been embraced by the food industries and governments as an important tool to restore and increase consumers confidence in food safety. Traceability is a critical tool for operationalizing standards and regulations through increasing transparency across food supply chains. Well-functioning traceability systems improve food safety control by allowing both public and private sector actors to verify that products meet market and regulatory requirements.

End-to-end traceability systems are challenging and expensive to implement. The private sector is the main driver of traceability, and investments are typically motivated by consumer demands, risk mitigation, standards compliance, efficiency gains, or some combination of these incentives.

Blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) are attracting interest across sectors for their capacity to transform how transactions are made and recorded. Blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger in which data are inputted, verified by consensus, and updated in real-time across a network of actors. Once a piece of information is added, it is permanently and unalterably stored in the blockchain.

As consumers become more aware of food safety issues, actors all along food value chains must be equipped with the ability to meet consumer demands and comply with standards and regulations. A critical component of administering food safety standards and regulations is the ability to trace products from their origin through the supply chain, isolate threats, and recall contaminated products when needed. Well-designed and administered traceability systems, regardless of the platform used, can advance producer access to markets and improve food safety for consumers.

FOOD SAFETY THREATS IN A MILL 

The main food safety threats in the milling industry are foreign materials, bacteria, mycotoxins and allergens. To produce safe milled products, it is essential to have control on grains purchasing, storage, cleaning, conditioning, milling and finished product packaging. The technique such as surface cleaning, colour sorting, density separator, etc. of grains before milling have shown potential to reduce contaminants. 

Flour milling company’s intent should be to produce under conditions that will lead to safe and quality products. The process is designed to ensure that no product leaves the facility and enters commerce that is unsafe or adulterated.

The flour mills can through their use of inspections of product, the cleaning process they expose to the incoming wheat, the use of their scourers, roll stands, magnet and metal detection devices throughout the mill, numerous sifters and the fact that they have an enclosed system with their piping conveyance of wheat and/or flour can be confident that they produce a safe and high quality flour produc


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