Traceability is “the ability to follow the movement of a food through specified stages of production, processing and distribution“
Traceability can be achieved through a system to keep track of products as they are received, processed, labeled and shipped.
The traceability system includes the following elements:
Traceability can be verified using various methods including: affidavits, customer audits, and third-party audits.
The customer asks his supplier to indicate, in writing, the confirmation of origin. The customer relies on the certification (affidavit or declaration) from the supplier that they comply with the applicable state, federal and international laws that guarantee traceability.
This verification method can be done in two general ways. The basic method is for the customer to visit the supplier’s office and review the supplier’s files (fish tickets, landing reports, processing records, purchase orders, shipping lists, invoices, etc.) regarding the products that the customer buys. The most advanced level is for the customer to visit the supplier’s processing plants (near fishing grounds) and manufacturing facilities (away from fishing grounds) and carry out a physical verification of the traceability of the products.
The client hires the services of an external auditor and negotiates the desired degree (intensity) of the audit. The auditor visits the supplier’s plants, facilities and offices and conducts the required examinations and inspections. The auditor then reports the findings to the consumers/client.
Legislative efforts to require food traceability have been led by the European Union (EU) and the United States (US), with other organizations such as the Codex Alimentarius and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) playing an important role. in the development of international standards and guidelines.
All Alaska seafood is traceable by law. Alaska seafood suppliers must comply with applicable national and international laws and regulations governing food producers. Additionally, Alaska suppliers must adhere to the Traceability Standard governed by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), ensuring that they have traceability of the products they produce.
It is important to note that virtually all external or third-party traceability audits have the documentation already required by law, and the good faith efforts of the company to demonstrate traceability and good modern manufacturing.
Most third party audits are verifying that the fundamental elements for traceability are in place for a given company. The level of rigor you apply to documentation of traceability should be appropriate to the needs of your business, and a function of the relationship you have with your supplier.