Importance of Traceability

The Importance of Traceability in Animal Agtech and What Do Big Companies Do?

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The traceability of meat products is a revolution in Agtech. Big companies utilize technology to make sure that their animals are fit and healthy, thus fit for the consumption of the public.

This is a solution to the problems faced in history, such as animal disease outbreaks that led to events such as the Horse gate scandal. Consumers today demand more insight into where the foods that they consume come from.

The traceability in animal agricultural technology has massive benefits for food companies. Traceability will help track the movement of the products that can range from livestock to crops, this can be easily implemented by competitive companies that are involved in the agricultural technology domain.

The items can be tracked forward, backward, and across the supply chain in the process of food production. If food traceability processes are upgraded, this will result in an improved inventory management system, ensuring that the processes are compliant with international, local, and federal food regulators. Traceability also maintains a positive brand image for the company.

What are Food Traceability Systems?

Food traceability systems are known as a “one-step-back-one-step-forward” principle. Traceability is the ability of the system to identify the origin of the feed ingredients for livestock and the origin of the food.

This principle is particularly useful for big companies when general market products are found to be faulty. A system with traceability can provide transparent information to regulators to ensure brand safety.

The traceability system allows companies or businesses to locate a product in its development stages, to organize and document the data related to the food, and details of the processes that are involved in the manufacture, distribution, processing of the food, and the feed used for livestock.

The system is able to trace the product from its primary production phase up to the consumption phase. This can therefore facilitate the identification and the uncovering of any nonconformity in the foodstuffs.

It can therefore facilitate the identification of the cause of nonconformity of a product, improve the ability to withdraw or recall such product if necessary, and prevent unsafe products from reaching the customers. A food traceability system generally has 5 legislative requirements.

  1. Such a system will register as a keeper on all the holdings that are in use.
  2. It will provide identification of each and every livestock with an animal identification code.
  3. There must be accurate and recent record-keeping of all of the holdings.
  4. There must be a document that must include the movement of all of the livestock.
  5. A movement notification with documentation for all of the holdings to the relevant authority.

Generally, food safety systems must include compatibility, standardization of the data, and the definition of a traceable resource unit. There are multiple technologies used in food traceability.

Bar Codes

Bar codes are a combination of black and white spaces. These codes are read by barcode scanners that register the reflection of white areas and associate them with some data related to the products. The use of this technology is simple, offers exact traceability, and is quite economical.

The disadvantages of barcodes are that they are unreadable if damaged, need a clear line of sight, barcode scanners can only read one code at an instant, and these codes are unable to collect environmental information.

Radio Frequency Identification

RFID tags are also a technology used. This technology is a wireless system that is made up of tags and readers. The reader is a device with antennas that emit radio waves in the surroundings and receive reflected signals from the back of an RFID tag, generally attached to an animal.

Passive RFID tags are needed by readers and do not need a battery. There are multiple advantages of RFID technology such as no requirement of a clear line of sight, a higher data rate transfer and larger memory for the data, can be used to read and write to the tags, and make use of reversible tags that can read multiple tags at once and rely on the reader for collection of data.

With its benefits, there are disadvantages as well such as tags being unable to initiate any form of communication, tags cannot initiate communication, no cooperation between devices, and there is limited capability in transmission range.

Wireless Sensor Networks

Wireless Sensor networks are a network of dispersed and dedicated sensors that are able to monitor and record environmental conditions. This data is then forwarded to a central repository. A WSN can accurately measure physical conditions such as sound, pollution levels, wind speed, humidity, and temperature.

WSNs have benefits such as the reading of multiple tags at an instant, they do not rely on a reader for data collection, these are suitable for non-reachable places, cheap implementation pricing, easy to accommodate any new devices, a small amount of wiring, and can be accessed by a central monitor.

The disadvantages of a WSN are that it is less secure, it has a lower transmission speed, it is easily hindered by obstacles, it is unable to control the propagation of the waves, it can get distracted by interference, and has a cost greater than barcodes of RFIDs.

DNA Barcoding

DNA barcoding is another method used for species identification. It makes use of a short section of DNA from a gene. As a premise, the comparison with a library of such DNA sequences is used to identify a single organism uniquely. It has its advantages such as being reliable, a small biological sample needed, differentiation among species is easy.

It has its shortfalls such as dependency on a single region, DNA barcoding very reliable method, a small number of biological samples needed, applicability for all life stages, differentiation among phenotypically alike species process of DNA-extraction, sample condition, dependency on a single region of mitochondrial DNA and requires DNA extraction processes.

Making Use of Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology can be used. It has successive blocks of data which is encrypted, and any new data is stored on top of the data. The advantages are that the process is completely transparent and open, it has real-time tracking, has better traceability management, it can also enhance the credibility of the Agriculture technology food safety information, and can fight against any fake products. It has a primary disadvantage, which is its immaturity. It is also quite resource-consuming and expensive.

Also Read: Importance of Food Traceability and What are the Challenges?

Why Food Traceability is Important?

Food traceability is of immense importance in the emerging field of Agtech. It has multiple benefits such as improving inventory management by making the movement transparent. It is important that big companies, small farms, or foodstuff businesses set up systems with food traceability due to their immense importance.

Folio3 provides cutting-edge Animal Care Software Solutions that revolutionize livestock management and pet care. With the knowledge of our domain experts in the animal care industry and our extensive expertise in developing animal care software solutions, we can help you optimize and better manage animal health and care procedures and practices.

Whether you’re a ranch or farm owner, feed yard operator, animal caretaker, or animal care specialist. Their solutions can also be implemented in foodservice sectors such as retailers or restaurants.

Food Safety

The primary use of food safety is to ensure food safety. This is possible for pastures and crops side by side. The pastures’ health, living conditions, and processes followed are thoroughly documented. As for the crops, all the routines, packaging, and cultivation details are present.

These ensure food safety by using documentation that cannot be manipulated. The systems allow procedural traceability, this helps in the case of an event such as product or batch contamination, a disease outbreak in the crops or livestock, and any foodborne disease in the public.

In the case of such events, a traceability system can determine where the contamination took place. For example, it can be discovered if there was an issue with the supplier, any improper handling of the items by an employee, or a faulty machine.

The traceability systems are more focused on public health and help the manufacturers deal with or avoid any outbreak of foodborne illnesses. If a proper food traceability system is installed, foodstuff businesses can avoid affecting the health of the public detrimentally, and eliminate any economic or legal ramifications of the contaminated products that made it into the market.

Read More: Key Components of Food Safety Compliance

Real-Time Traceability

Building upon the previous point, let us assume that there is an event where a single batch needs to be tracked down. The food traceability system will allow the organization to track down the batch with their respective numbers.

So if in case there is a contamination, the proactivity can be carried out by locating the affected items and then removing them from circulation, distribution, or production.

Additionally, real-time traceability can help businesses analyze the manufacturing processes to elicit the process where any problems are occurring in your product line. It is not necessary that the traceability must begin as a response, it can also be initiated to identify any bottlenecks in the production, packaging, and distribution processes to solve these inefficiencies.

Reducing the Need for Corrective Actions

The product traceability systems help businesses avoid setbacks as a whole by making use of real-time features. As hard as companies try, there are shortfalls and sometimes products must be recalled.

In the US, 337 food recalls occurred in 2019. If companies have food traceability systems in place, the problems can be avoided or tracked if they occur. In case the recall is imminent, the tracking will be made easier for recall.

Companies will be able to determine the stores that their products are placed in and recall the products easily and effectively. These systems can be used for prevention instead of only reaction. When the data of the systems are monitored adequately, businesses can monitor and defend against risk in the emergence phase and eliminate it.

Follow Regulations

Generally, a food traceability system can help companies comply with regulations set by local, federal, or international bodies. Governments have laws in place that protect the rights of the consumers, and these require the registration of the business.

As a result, companies will need a movement history of the products, where the products are destined to reach, and what these products went through. These are the reasons why a food production business will need to have a functional food traceability system active.

The traceability systems provide documentation and complete detail to ensure that all the processes follow regulations and are fit for the market.

Growing Demand for Knowing More of What is Consumed

After incidents such as the horse gate scandal, consumers demand to have more insight into what they are consuming. This means there is an increase in the food safety and identification of the trade in the agri-food domain.

These changes in the environment lead to a network of production. The structure of this supply chain means everyone must handle products according to standards. This has increased the complexity across multiple organizations.

The increase in stakeholders introduces unpredictability in the supply of these perishable goods. This means there is a more rigorous requirement for ensuring that the quality and safety of the foods and the processes involved are traceable and also follow regulations that have been placed as food safety measures.

Having a food safety system improves the insurance of quality compliance standards. This makes all the data visible for satisfaction. Furthermore, the availability of data enables companies to perform better risk management and a quick reaction to product withdrawals, recalls, and any emergencies such as disease outbreaks.

Decrease the Response Time

When a company has a food safety system in place, it significantly reduces the response time in case of plant disease or animal disease outbreaks. Availability of information helps in determining the source of the affected animals and plants.

We can also trace the origin of the outbreak. Thus, this helps to cut research time and cost and is a very crucial point in the supply chain from the producer to the consumer.

Make Better Decisions

The food safety systems can enable businesses to make more informed management decisions that can lead to increased product exposure, increase market penetration, and reduced operating costs.

The visibility of all the information provided by the traceability system will help businesses utilize their resources and processes more effectively to make sure that the business model yields long-term profitability. The out-of-date product losses, low inventory levels, can be minimized.

The identification of processes and suppliers, quickening the delivery, and raising the levels of effectiveness in logistics and distributions in operations are also how better decisions can be made.

Customer Satisfaction

The availability of an improved customer confidence level helps in the branding by improving brand equity. In cases of special products such as Wagyu beef, crops such as saffron and cacao, condiments that have a high market value due to their unique characteristics, food traceability can help in preventing contamination and mixing with other low value produce. This ensures that the product delivered is authentic.

What Companies Do for Food Traceability?

Companies make sure that food traceability systems are implemented as precisely as possible, so they make sure to perform steps so that they have authentic food traceability systems.

Make Proper Documentation

Companies make sure that they have each and every detail available for the safety of the food. Companies make use of the documents.

They may include the contact details of all of the suppliers, the information of all products alongside with origin, delivery, expiry dates, and quantity, a list of all of the ingredients and raw materials, identification of batches, and the contacts of their customers and the 3rd party sellers in this document.

The information included also depends on the size, and the type of food your business sells and varies from company to company.

Make Use of Technology

Foodborne illnesses cost the American economy almost $50 billion in capital to solve a foodborne illness outbreak. The use of technology is enhancing the protocols and making food safer.

The technology can be used alongside food traceability systems to help in monitoring processes, making sure FDA regulations are met, and making better decisions. Making use of artificial intelligence on the data can help uncover any emerging trends of diseases or productivity.

These companies hire services of companies that can provide automation and software services to make sure that they make full use of all of the resources present at the company’s disposal.

Always Have Evaluations

Using Agtech technologies is a task that is challenging. These companies always have safety experts available who carry out finding improvements in the processes. Big companies never wait for external evaluations, but carry them out regressively.

This allows for design changes in machines, pipelining the chain, and improving processes. The companies include these experts in all phases of production, packaging, and distribution. These make sure that any outbreak is prevented.

These evaluations also examine the business to make sure everything is in compliance with the policies of the governments. These experts are most certified as a factor of bias is also eliminated.

The experts clarify what elements fall short of defined standards, so they can be improved. These prevent any later delays and added reworking costs.

Have Third-Party Certifications from a Relevant Organization

The big companies really invest their resources in making their companies more legitimized. For example, manufacturing controls, hazard analyses, and personnel routine issues are the three most common violations in Agtech businesses in 2020.

The big companies hire relevant organizations to carry out inspections at the workplaces. Then, as they meet all safety standards, the relevant organization certifies these companies and increases their legitimacy.

This helps the company and their customers have peace of mind and an increased satisfaction level as the safety, quality, and processes are accredited by expert organizations in their fields.

Companies also use these certifications to flaunt their brand and increase recognition. The seal of approval also convinces clients that the Agtech has been inspected and approved. Government inspectors also regard these certifications as due to their legitimacy.

This is because the inspectors are aware of the prestige and rigor of the review processes of certain certification organizations. Companies will always obtain certification for their storage compartments, the health inspector reviews, equipment in use, or the routines followed by the staff.

How companies such as Folio3 can help in achieving traceability in Agtech?

To achieve traceability in Agtech, it is important to have a solution provider that is competitive, experienced, and has all the resources to develop such a complex system. Having experienced companies such as Folio3 by your side increases the legitimacy of your traceability system.

Clients and inspectors are also satisfied that such prestigious institutions are working to make sure that everything is according to, if not better the defined standards.

Lower Cost as Compared to Other Companies

The costs of setting up a traceability system include services, software costs, technology costs, hardware costs, training sessions, research, and operational costs. These costs can be a burden for enterprises as they perceive this as a function with a low payback rate, especially in developing companies.

However, it is a great investment as processes keep on improving. This makes sure that the clients have the best solutions at their disposal to increase revenues. Companies such as Folio3 have achieved maturity in processes, so they can reduce their operational costs and provide the best services at affordable rates to the clients.

Resource Availability

The company has hardware, human, software, intellectual, and experience available as resources. They have all resources, skills and can implement what they design. And They have reliable systems that can cater to all of the requirements of the solution user.

They can have a completely customized solution or an off-the-shelf solution. Off-the-shelf solutions help the customers when they want a solution that is tailored to all their business preferences. This ensures that the client has a customized solution to cater to all needs.

The company has extensive experience, with software developers, project managers, quality assurance engineers, requirement engineers, and domain experts who work together on problems to develop solutions for Agtech.

The availability of resources can help the customer have a solution that ensures that a complete solution set is provided to clients so they don’t have to worry about employing external services for the solution. It makes managing the solution easy for them.

Following International Standards

If a company has a great process to achieve its product, it will always have a great final product. The company follows ISO 9001 standards, which make sure that the company has a healthy work culture.

We deal with our customers well as we follow guidelines that make doing software business with non-technical people easy. The final solution developed by Folio3 is up to international standards alongside the expertise of their experienced teams.

The standards ensure that clients have solutions that a legitimately well designed and provide maximum value. The solution can cater to small businesses up to large corporations.

Timely Solution Delivery

Solutions that involve software are generally delivered much later than what companies agree upon. This is what they struggle with because of a lack of skilled team members, lack of experience, and weak work processes.

Folio3 faces no such setbacks as we have all the resources and deliver Agtech solutions well before the deadlines. This means that these solutions can be up and running before expected for the client.

This decreases the development costs as well making the solution affordable for clients and makes sure that the clients’ business starts to use this solution as soon as possible before any delays result in business losses.

Transparent Communications

Some unethical companies make use of loopholes to get away with their mischief. This is dangerous when developing safety systems as the company may completely abandon the solution provided and put you in a tough position in case of a setback.

They make use of misinformation and at times bluff the organizations that lack technical knowledge. Companies such as Folio3 are extremely reputable and try to keep the client comfortable. The company is transparent when discussing pricing, constraints, and any problem. This helps make sure that the customer has their trust in the company and that they do not face any situations that result in miscommunication.

Some Common Software used in Food Safety and Traceability

Jolt

Jolt was made for hourly workers. It is the most preferred platform for food traceability systems. By using a mobile device or a tablet, the checklists, temperature sensors, labeling on packages, and other functions are unified in a single app to make sure the business functions optimally even if you are not present there.

Records, oversight reports can be instantly accessed alongside mobile notifications on the phones. Jolt can track critical tasks to keep the processes transparent and the employees accountable.

DEAR systems

This solution is integrated with Xero and QuickBooks Online. It is very suitable for small and medium businesses in the wholesale, retail, manufacturing, and food production sectors as the inventories must be managed effectively here.

The solution covers the whole business process in inventory management. DEAR inventory also provides features that present all of the data needed to manage the costs and maximize profitability.

Acctivate Inventory Management

The advanced traceability feature of Acctivate is the best inventory solution for midsize and small food distribution businesses that make use of QuickBooks. The application adheres to FDA and other regulatory procedures.

This helps the best management of sources, expiry dates, batches, inspections, and maintaining the quality of the foods. All of the phases can be managed in real-time across the company with features such as sales management, process manufacturing, inventory management, tiered pricing, landed costs, and other features.

FreshCheq

FreshCheq can simplify the day-to-day procedures. It can help save money and time by providing features such as temperature logs, food wastage logs, corrective actions, audits, store checklists, reporting, and more.

It is designed for food businesses that need a cloud-based solution that can help improve task management. The usable dashboard has been reported on all levels of the organization from any mobile device to a computer. Some notable users of FreshCheq are Moe’s, KFC, and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Infor M3.

This solution can help establish a strong digital transformation foundation. This powerful ERP software solution makes use of the latest technology to provide users with the most exceptional experience. It also provides data analytics in multiple companies, multi-site, and multiple country cloud platforms. The solution is best suited for chemical, fashion, distribution, food, beverage, and industrial manufacturers.

Enterpryze

This full-fledged ERP is a cloud-based solution for e-commerce and retail businesses. This has a central system that combines stock and financial management data that can consolidate the data.

Furthermore, the warehouse supply chain, finances, and logistics can be managed from a single place. A 360-degree view of the business is shown so that owners don’t have to use multiple sources for transparency from various systems.

It is designed to make sure that this tailored software is easy to use and has a team that is ready to follow your business model.

Wherefour

This is an easy to sue and modern traceability system that enables your team to perform batch and lot traces, formula management, variance and batch costing, inventory control, and customer ordering and vendor bookings.

Data from over 2000 third-party platforms can be automated. The solution is cloud-based and works on tablets and phones. It is best suited for product manufacturers like beverages, food, cannabis, personal cosmetics and care, textiles, and equipment.

FoodDocs

This solution is best suited for all the food businesses that sell or serve food. Its pricing starts at a $99 flat rate per month. They offer a free trial but have no free version.

This food traceability solution ensures that retail or food service traceability is achieved. The entire food chain can be recorded by tracking the produced batches of the food and the shelf life of the components that were used in production. This automated setup also helps switch to a digital food safety mode in only 15 minutes.

All of the product-related information from the allergens data to the instructions for preparations can all be managed by a production module. This digital food safety system can save 20% of your time every week by automation of workflows. You can also get access to pre-filled monitoring sheets to make sure of task completion.

Again we should write it in a way that depicts how this will help customers and how will it help them instead we talk about our ways of working and operating.

About Folio3 AgTech Practice

Folio3 is a Silicon Valley based Digital Transformation partner for entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies with a special focus on digitization of Agriculture, Production and Companion Animal industry. Having worked with some of the world’s leading animal health companies, cattle associations, cow-calf operators, cattle feeders, beef processors and beef marketing companies, we have the design and development expertise required to help you digitize your manual procedures and practices, whether you’re a farm or a ranch owner, veterinarian, feedlot manager, nutritionist, or processing plant owner, we have got you covered.

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