The new regulations on traceability take effect from 1st January 2005, as part of the General Food Law Regulations 2004, in accordance with EU food legislation (178/2002/EC). The regulations will require food businesses at all levels of the supply chain to keep records of their suppliers and businesses they supply to, on a 'one up, one down basis' and to provide access to these records as required by statutory authorities.
For food manufacturers, this means they will be required to trace all food ingredients, including additives and other supplements, from the supplier through the production and packaging processes, to the supermarket or other retailers. Enhanced traceability will enable some manufacturers to produce food or drink that they can demonstrate is allergen or GM-free, in order to meet growing consumer demand for such products.
The move to legislate to improve traceability in the food chain, bringing greater liability for food businesses, has led to a raft of new solutions designed to eliminate risk and streamline processes and management systems.
John Summers, European Food Business Manager, Air Products, comments:
"The trouble with many of the solutions in the marketplace is that they are driven by minimising a customer's exposure to risk and are not necessarily designed to open up new commercial opportunities.
"Knowledge about ingredients in the food we produce is very valuable. If used strategically, it can deliver added value to the end-product and enhance profit potential.
"Forward-thinking food manufacturers will be seeking a technological partner like Air Products who can advise and work with them to develop processing, traceability and packaging solutions which not only meet regulatory requirements but deliver business value too."
In addition to introducing traceability requirements, the General Food Regulations 2004 also stipulate that the labelling, advertising and presentation of food should not mislead customers. The regulations put the onus on food businesses not to market products that are unsafe and to withdraw products that do not comply with food safety regulations.
Air Products recently commissioned a pan-european survey of its food industry customers and found that 85% of manufacturers and processors are concerned about the pace of regulatory change. John Summers comments:
"Food businesses must embrace new technologies and regard the tightening regulatory framework as an opportunity to review entire processes and consider long term strategies.
"We've been working with our customers to help them to understand the legislation and the opportunities it may present. As a result we've developed a technology that enables food processors to better manage their supply chain. Benefits include easy access to data covering HACCP, traceability, quality, sustainability and procurement."
In addition to providing a range of process solutions to the food industry, Air Products is also a leading supplier of gases for food processes including cryogenic freezing and MAP packaging. For more information visit www.airproducts.co.uk/freshline or phone 0800 3890202. About Air Products
Air Products (NYSE:APD) serves customers in technology, energy, healthcare and industrial markets worldwide with a unique portfolio of products, services and solutions, providing atmospheric gases, process and specialty gases, performance materials and chemical intermediates. Founded in 1940, Air Products has built leading positions in key growth markets such as semiconductor materials, refinery hydrogen, home healthcare services, natural gas liquefaction, and advanced coatings and adhesives. The company is recognized for its innovative culture, operational excellence and commitment to safety and the environment and is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability and FTSE4Good Indices. The company has annual revenues of $7.4 billion, operations in over 30 countries, and nearly 20,000 employees around the globe. For more information, visit www.airproducts.com
As the industry gears up for the introduction of new regulations on traceability, most food manufacturers will be ready, but will they have gone far enough? Air Products, a leading provider of gases and technology to the food industry, believes for some, traceability readiness will be a missed opportunity.