Traceability: what is it and how does it affect the vegetables you eat?

19 October 2021

The term traceability began to appear in the mid-1990s, mainly due to the evolution of consumer habits in response to health and food crises in Europe. This is when the food sectors began to incorporate this tool to guarantee the safety of foodstuffs, and the health of people and animals.

What is traceability?

We already know that traceability is a tool that aims to protect animal and human health. But what is traceability? It is a set of pre-established processes that make it possible to obtain information on shelf life, location and trajectory of a product or batch throughout the entire chain.

This concept consists of two types: internal and external, the first providing information on a company’s internal processes, including handling, machinery, composition, etc., and the last including extra data, which is generally provided when it leaves the company itself.

Apart from the benefits for the food safety of our society, traceability is an important tool for other reasons that have a lot to do with the organization of the companies themselves when obtaining and marketing their products. It helps, among other things, to organize procedures and manage goods.

Advantages of traceability

  • Planification of the production: the existence of traceability makes it possible to receive data about the sales of certain batches and products, which inevitably means that this valuable information is used by companies to improve their processes, products, sales channels, etc.
  • Promotes transparency: traceability allows easy access to data about the shelf life of a product, so that if any agent requires information at any point in the chain, they can obtain it from dates of manufacture, materials, ingredients, origin, etc.
  • Controls quality: the mere fact of being able to find defects or problems in a product automatically means that the quality of the product, or at least those in circulation or on sale, is always at its highest level.
  • Less impact: in response to consumer interest, traceability provides information on the impact of crops on the environment, or even the use of phytosanitary products.
  • Avoids imitations: although it is difficult for imitations to occur in agriculture, the mere fact that there is verifiable traceability makes this practice even more difficult, guaranteeing maximum quality in the products consumed and, therefore, food welfare.

Traceability is therefore more than an obligation for any company, especially for those of us involved in feeding society. It is a clear example of how to make a health mechanism evolve into a powerful tool for improving products and making them both more accessible to people and a guarantee of maximum quality.