Food traceability is a key component of food safety, a process that enables processors and manufacturers painstakingly track and trace each product and ingredient from their origin to their final application. Controlling the supply chain traceability is crucial both during daily operations and during crisis management situations or product recalls. What are the risks of failing to guarantee that control over traceability? Why should you work with suppliers that ensure total process traceability? How can this objective be measured? Keep reading to find out.
Traceability as a company process is generally used for the following business purposes:
- Market withdrawal of products.
- Public health tracing.
- Compliance with regulations.
- Food safety and quality assurance.
- Process and order management.
For every industrial manufacturer, it is essential for its suppliers to be able to ensure total traceability from origin, through processing and packaging, to the final sale of the products. This guarantees that the product will comply with the highest quality standards at every stage, allowing to have total control over any kind of incident.
Why is knowing your suppliers’ traceability process so important?
Food traceability is a key aspect of food safety regulations. In order to comply with legal requirements and third-party certification programmes (such as the IFS), food industry manufacturers must be capable of demonstrating that they have an optimal food traceability system in place.
In this regard, it is important to remember that all food products and raw materials included in the food manufacturing processes must be traceable “one step back, one step forward”. Complying with these regulations requires food processing companies to implement systems and methods to trace the origin and destination of all incoming and outgoing products and raw materials.
Nowadays, the complexity of supply chains has notably increased. Food safety and quality issues are still the main risk factors when failing to provide for sufficient traceability; however, knowing the entire traceability process for each ingredient supplier helps manufacturers understand the origin of the product and its attributes or qualities. This greater knowledge can translate into a more transparent offer for the consumer and a more sustainable product.
When considering the preference for fresher, simpler products – aspects that are related to the clean label trend – we can claim that the situation is encouraging new product developments that use nuts and its derivatives, and here, industry nut suppliers such as Itac Professional offer manufacturers a total control over the traceability or origin of their catalogue of solutions and ingredients.
Food traceability, one of the 7 basic principles of food safety
As we have seen so far, the control over a product’s traceability is linked to a proper food safety management. In addition to traceability, we could highlight other six principles1 that strengthen the concept of food safety:
- Corporate responsibility
- Official food and feed controls
- The precautionary principle
- Independent scientific risk assessment
- Separation of risk assessment and risk management
- Transparent risk communication
In this regard, we must highlight that the most important quality management system for company managers in the field of food safety is the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, which is fully implemented at Itac Professional.
Consumer centricity: how to guarantee the maximum transparency and safety
According to a recent study by The Center for Food Integrity, 65% of consumers want to know more about the source of the food that they consume. Based on this overwhelming figure, and as consumers continue to diversify their diets, it is increasingly necessary to offer reliable and transparent information to consumers. In this regard, it is essential for manufacturers to prioritise traceability to find the perfect balance between consumer demands for natural and healthy foods and the sector’s capacity to meet those demands under the highest safety standards.
Itac Professional’s food traceability process
At Itac Professional, the B2B brand of Importaco group for the food industry, we ensure the total traceability of our products, including almonds, peanuts and its various processed forms. Traceability is made possible by ensuring a total specialisation on these products since the cultivation and harvest to the processing and sale of our products.
Stages of our traceability processes:
- In the field
At Itac Professional we work closely with the almond and peanut producers with the purpose of obtaining the highest possible amount of raw material. We also focus on applying farming techniques aimed at maintaining and optimising the natural resources.
- Hulling, selection and grading
Once the harvesting process is completed, we perform a quality control on arrival; in other words, samples are taken to determine the quality of the product that arrives from the field and we move on to the pre-cleaning, conditioning and drying stages.
Next, we remove the hull and perform an optimal product selection, eliminating any foreign body and using the latest technology in electronic selection machines. In addition, our raw materials undergo different controls performed by our specialised laboratories in regard to aspects such as: rancidity indicators, microtoxins, heavy metals and pesticides, microbiology, bitter almond screening, etc.
- Processing or finishing
We count with cutting-edge technology for the processing of our products, in order to comply with the technical specifications requested by our industrial clients in regard to measurements, grade and colour, as well as viscosity and additives in the specific case of our nut pastes.
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In this regard, and before the packaging stage, the product undergoes additional electronic and manual foreign body selection processes, metal detection and other quality controls.
Importaco Group factory specialised in peanuts
After finishing the product, we package it as per the needs of our clients. With our packaging technology we guarantee the highest safety and logistic and operational efficiency in the distribution of almond and peanut to the industry.
- Food safety.
Both our specialised procurement and quality at origin teams perform painstaking controls before purchasing the raw materials. These controls extend to the field, ensuring the best agricultural practices and a total control over the harvest when received, across the various processes and before the delivery of the final solution to our industrial clients.
Nutritional and technological quality as well as hygiene and safety are our top priorities as almond and peanut suppliers for the industry. This is why we are backed by the most stringent food safety certifications.
What are some of the critical quality parameters applied by Itac Professional?
Itac Professional’s product specialisation favours a total control over the product’s traceability, a key requirement in guaranteeing quality. Below is a short list of the quality controls performed by the company:
1. Quality controls related to physical criteria
- Presence of foreign bodies, whether dangerous such as crystals and stones or non-hazardous: vegetable debris, threads, plastics, etc.
Related to the shell:
- Broken shell.
- Over processed shell.
- Stained shell.
- Underdeveloped kernel.
Related to the shelling/peeling:
- Presence of chipped halves or slices (kernel chunks).
- Damaged kernel: mouldy, spoilt, frozen, dirty.
2. Quality controls based on microbiological parameters
- Moulds and yeasts.
- Aerobic mesophilic bacteria.
3. Quality controls based on chemical parameters
- Moisture: Water content in the kernel or kernel + shell.
- Salt: Salt content in the final product.
- Aflatoxins: Toxins resulting from the presence of mould.
- Oximetry: Residual oxygen content in the package.
- Hexanal: Chemical compound derived from rancidification processes. It is an indicator of rancidity.
Product specialisation, the key to a total traceability control over our almonds and peanuts
Our specialisation policy starts at the origin, in the cultivation of our raw material, thanks to the implementation of a supplier social and quality agreement system that results in shared food safety, quality and sustainability standards. The key aspects of our specialisation at origin include:
- Supplier auditing.
- Cultivation reporting.
- Specifications and analysis methods.
- Special procurement and quality teams.
- Offices at the point of origin.
- Corrective measure follow-up.
- Plan of action and non-conformity follow-up.
In addition, the many food certifications awarded to Itac Professional, such as IFS and BRC, imply exhaustive audits and the implementation of quality systems with a traceability protocol that guarantees a control over the goods during the entire product manufacturing process.
Furthermore, the purchases specialisation sees our suppliers as partners, implementing a Preferred Supplier Policy (PPS) that enables us to guarantee a maximum quality at the country of origin, offering an excellent service and guaranteeing the supply and freshness of our products.
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Importaco Ingredients, our specialised Peanut-Free almond factory
Lastly, our quality specialisation revolves around our Technology Centre and our accredited external and in-house laboratories specialised in nuts. Our technology centre has sensory labs, chemical labs and microbiology labs, among others, focused on guaranteeing the quality of the solutions that we offer to the food industry.
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1 Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). Understanding Food Safety | Facts and Background
FAO. Food Traceability Guidance.
Food Safety Magazine. The Importance of Food Traceability