Recently, the GFTC (Global Food Traceability Centre), released a new report detailing comprehensive reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, which compared and evaluated different countries for their traceability regulations.
Twenty-one OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries were scrutinized, with only The European Union - including members of the European free trade association, emerging as ‘Superior’ in their food traceability practices.
Australia, alongside other countries such as the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, and Japan, were awarded the rating of ‘Average’.
The Issue of Food Traceability
The authors of the GFTC report suggested that although there are many benefits which come from trading food items on a global basis, there are also various complications. A serious issue in food trading arises in internationally tracing food products in the event of a food-borne animal or plant disease, illness, or product recall.
As a response to this, the authors of the report evaluated and assessed each country based on the responses generated by a serious of questions that had been created to assess the programs and policies of traceability.
The questions were designed to discover whether traceability regulations existed on a mandatory level within nations, including imported products, and the documentation required for imports. They also assessed whether there was an electronic database for tracing and whether this database was easily accessible.
Today, following foods through a global chain of supply can make traceability more complex and inefficient in the unfortunate event that a crisis does arise. This is why experts suggest that a global harmonisation in regards to traceability regulations and requirements is needed. Industries must minimise the potential for delays and misunderstandings for better results.
The Australian Rating
Australia, alongside New Zealand and Brazil, received the overall rating of ‘Average’. Although Australia has a strong traceability system in regards to the trade of livestock, the tracing system in place for other imported foods and domestic products is currently under-developed.
The authors of the report suggest that Australia needs to develop a more advanced set of requirements for their traceability scheme, as at this point, the requirements for tracing the development of foods from farm to plate are non-existent.
The GFTC, a non-profit organisation, hopes to bring together key stakeholders throughout the world in order to collaborate on the improvement of food traceability procedures, to enhance food safety across the globe.