TRACEABILITY; THE WEAK LINK IN FOOD SYSTEM WHICH CAN BE STRENGTHENED

As a follow up of the POST COVID business
environment that is developing, on the instructions of the Hon’ble Prime
Minister Eleven Empowered Groups have been constituted which would be exclusively
focusing on issues pertaining to supply chain and logistics. The key
functionality assigned to the group was to oversee and remove all the
operational hurdles associated with the supply chain so that logistics
operations as an end to end solution functioned efficiently without any
hiccups.

Robust data system has been set up to
monitor the progress the logistics right from its movement from the godowns
till its destination and a dashboard has been set up to monitor real time
progress. For the first time such a focused attention has been paid to the
logistics sector to ensure that the goods reach the desired destinations and
facilitate the end user, be it the business entity or the consumer.

This was perfect opportunity to build up a
system of traceability for the products being transported from the point of
pick up to the point of delivery. In the present times when the quality of a
product has become circumspect, the component of traceability embedded into the
system would go a long way in instilling confidence in the end user.

Let me illustrate it with an example. The
other day I purchased Pears which were looking perfectly fine from outside.
When I cut it to eat, it was reeking of residual pesticides component which
must have been added either in the Godown or during transportation to enhance
the shelf life, but in the bargain it also destroyed the taste and texture of
the product.

Traceability is a flow chart that traces
the flow of food from production to processing via the distribution stage. It
also is an effective tool to pin-point the contamination that food might have
undergone at a particular stage.

As a matter of fact, traceability is the
navigation path of a food product or its GPS so to say which facilitates in
plugging the loopholes of the system and ensures that  for the end user the product is safe to be
consumed.

As per the Food Recall Regulation Procedure
2017 for India, Farm to Fork traceability has to be put into the system. But
its implementation is more in the realm of theory than in practice in India.
May be the apathy could be on account of the notion that it is a costly
proposition, or lack of knowledge about its importance and an amnesia about
Food Safety.

Wherever there are instances of
implementation of the component of traceability it is only up to the
distributor level or one level down in the supply chain and then it is a
Byzantine maze. But should we despair about the situation?

Not exactly, as advancement of technology
has ensured now that traceability can easily be identified and AgNext is
leading the initiative to facilitate traceability along with quality testing at
each transactional point in an easy and cost effective manner. It is high time
the element of traceability is embedded firmly into the food chain management
system and the present times should be used as the platform to propagate about
it in a rigorous manner and establish it as an integral part of protocol of the
food system construct.

Nalin

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