The attention of consumer groups, health institutes and media towards food contamination and related public health issues has increased in the recent years owing to the increase in number of food recalls. With news about food recalls due to harmful contaminants in the food products or due to mislabelling across the food & beverages industry, manufacturers have begun to realize the importance of food traceability
. Food traceability has emerged as one of the strategic and system wide approach to address operational and safety issues thereby minimizing the risk of food contamination. The major reasons that have been found for the food recalls are microbial and allergen contamination, followed by other reasons such as faulty labelling and presence of foreign particles, especially in processed foods.
The table below shows the number of product recalls per year in Australia as per the data provided by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
According to FSANZ statistics, presence of allergens was the main reason for food recalls followed by microbial contamination caused by salmonella, listeria monocytogenes and E Coli. This scenario is similar even in other developed nations such as U.S., U.K., Canada and Japan. The food recalls leads to decreased revenues and profit margins. In addition, it affects the brand image, trust among the consumers impacting their long-term sustenance. Regulatory bodies of developed nations have been developing and implementing frameworks to reduce food contamination across various food segments. Typically, these frameworks include establishment of food safety standards, good manufacturing practices and their implementation. In addition, food safety programs are being employed to convey the importance of technological integration, employee safety, environmental impacts and most importantly hygienic premises and clean equipment. These initiatives require industry wide collaborations for large scale implementation which has picked up pace in the recent years driving the demand for traceability systems.
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