Open problems in traceability: from raw materials to finished food products


Even though the main EU regulations concerning food traceability have already entered to force since many years, we still remark very wide and impacting product recalls, which often involve simultaneously large territories and many countries. This is a clear sign that current traceability procedures and systems, when implemented with the only aim of respecting mandatory policies, are not effective, and that there are some aspects that are at present underestimated, and therefore should be attentively reconsidered. In particular, the sole adoption of the so-called “one step back-one step forward traceability” to comply the EC Regulation 178/2002, where every actor in the chain handles merely the data coming from his supplier and those sent to his client, is in fact not sufficient to control and to limit the impact of a recall action after a risk notification. Recent studies on lots dispersion and routing demonstrate that each stakeholder has to plan his activities (production, transformation or distribution) according to specific criteria that allow pre-emptively estimating and limiting the range action of a possible recall. Moreover, these new and very recently proposed techniques still present some limits; first of all the problem of traceability of bulk products (e.g. liquids, powders, grains, crystals) during production phases that involve mixing operations of several lots of different/same materials. In fact, current traceability practices are in most cases unable to deal efficiently with this kind of products, and, in order to compensate the lack of knowledge about lot composition, typically resort to the adoption of very large lots, based for instance on a considered production period. Aim of this paper is to present recent advances in the design of supply chain traceability systems, discussing problems that are still open and are nowadays subject of research.


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traceability, supply chain, bulk products.
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How to Cite
Comba, L., Dabbene, F., Gay, P., & Tortia, C. (2013). Open problems in traceability: from raw materials to finished food products. Journal of Agricultural Engineering, 44(2s).