Harmlessness and Traceability of Foodstuffs

Foodstuffs that do not harm the human health, life, or environment is harmless. In line with the laws and regulations of the European Union (EU), the policy of harmless foodstuffs facilitates protection of health and competitiveness of market. For this purposes, common control standards have been developed in Europe governing production of harmless foodstuffs and ensuring their traceability, from extraction of ingredients to the end consumer.

Policy of Harmlessness

In line with EC Regulation No.178/2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) whose main task is to assess all threats related to food chain and provide information on them. The Regulation provides the principle of prudence, approach to risk assessment, and provides general regulations in regard to traceability of foodstuffs and animal feed.

The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) is applicable in Europe. It allows the institutions responsible for the protection of public health to exchange information quickly on risks related to foodstuffs and animal feed. Thereby all members of the RASFF can act accordingly to protect consumers as efficient as possible. In addition, an on-line application iRASFF operates where you can send new messages on products causing threats or follow messages sent by other members.

Traceability of Foodstuffs

If foodstuffs cannot be traced, threats are caused to the operations of internal market of foodstuffs. Traceability of foodstuffs has a great significance in protection of public health and in facilitating fair and responsible sales of foodstuffs. Every company engaged in production of foodstuffs, needs to have a tracing system that includes such parameters as accompanying documents, identification and accounting of foodstuffs, labelling of foodstuffs and internal documentation of a company.

EC Regulation No.178/2002 provides that traceability of foodstuffs is an ability to trace and find any food, feed, productive animals, or substance that is planned to be or might be added to food or feed in all production, processing, and distribution phases.

Goals of Traceability:
• To ensure harmless and quality foodstuffs in the market;
• To ensure fast removal of hazardous foodstuffs from the market and reduce costs in the event of removal;
• To provide accurate information to consumers on the specific product;
• To increase operational efficiency of companies;
• To comply with the requirements of international and national laws.

According to EC Regulation No.178/2002, those involved in the food chain have to be able to identify any person that has supplied or to whom they have supplied foodstuffs and any other substances that are planned to be or that might be added to foodstuffs. In addition, systems and procedures that ensure fast provision of information to control institutions upon their request have to be implemented.

Traceability of foodstuffs in Europe is based on the principle “One Step Up / One Step Down” that helps to answer questions “When?”, “Where?” and “From where?”.

Four Stages of Traceability:
1. Identification – identifies the direct suppliers and clients to whom products have been supplied (except for direct end users).
2. Documentation – a system providing information on the supplier of raw materials (link “supplier – product”) and system that provides information on products supplied to consumers (link “client – product”).
3. Coordination and management – coordination of the above systems.
4. Communication – communication with all parties involved in the food chain and, if necessary, with the supervising institutions.

Information that companies involved in the food chain must indicate in line with EC Regulation No.931/2011:
• An accurate description of the food;
• The volume or quantity of the food;
• The name and address of the food business operator from which the food has been dispatched;
• The name and address of the consignor (owner) if different from the food business operator from which the food has been dispatched;
• The name and address of the food business operator to whom the food is dispatched;
• The name and address of the consignee (owner), if different from the food business operator to whom the food is dispatched;
• A reference identifying the lot, batch or consignment, as appropriate;
• The date of dispatch.

Benefits of traceability for the end consumer of product:
• Information on the producer;
• Information on the origin of product;
• Information on production date and expiry date;
• Information on the ingredients, including allergens and GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms);
• Information on the used food additives;
• Information on price.