Brazil is one of the largest animal feed producers in the world, according to REAVI, and in recent years, the animal nutrition industry has shown great expansion.
Thus, in order to maintain this position or even improve it in the market, it is necessary that – in addition to perfecting processes and offering quality products – the industries guarantee safety, which is possible when there are no biological, chemical, or physical contaminants in the food.
To develop a safe and quality feed it is essential to use strategies to control the processing stage. In order to do that, one of the most suitable actions is the implementation of traceability.
Traceability is a tool that allows to monitor the product’s history, from its origin to the final consumer. After the implementation is done, it is possible to control and also avoid problems that may occur during processing.
In addition, traceability makes it possible for feed formulators and animal producers to follow the entire production chain of inputs used in feed formulations, ensuring a holistic view of the production chain.
Next, we will learn more about traceability and how it represents an essential tool for the animal nutrition industry.
What is traceability?
Traceability, according to FAO, is a system that allows one to identify the origin of the product all the way from the field to the consumer, which can later be transformed or processed. It is a set of measures that make it possible to control and monitor all movements in the entry and exit units of a company, aiming at a production chain that offers quality with a safe origin.
According to REAVI, there are several types of traceability that can be used in industries, in order to discover the causes of quality failures. This is possible because a qualitative description informs the paths through which the product passed through, as well as the procedures adopted in each stage of the chain, in addition to the identification of the actions taken in case of non-conformity with a particular standard.
These measures serve as a complement to quality management and, when applied separately, do not guarantee product or process safety. Therefore, they must be added to other quality control systems such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), Self-Control Programs (SCP), and Good Practices in Production/Manufacturing (GPM).
Considering all that, traceability serves several purposes. These are mentioned below:
- To provide information to consumers;
- To ensure that only quality and authorized products enter the system;
- To clearly and explicitly identify products that are different, but that may be confused with each other;
- To control the movement of animals and their products inside the industry for sanitary purposes;
- To allow the return of suspicious product on an accurate basis;
- To identify failures and take corrective measures;
- To control the safety and quality of products.
To implement the traceability system efficiently, it is important to ensure that it is composed of quality standards and/or references that allows: to guarantee and preserve, to have fully established procedures, list permitted and prohibited inputs, to have grace or transition periods based on regulations, to require producers to maintain proof of purchase and sales, audits, periodic and surprise inspections.
In view of these benefits, government entities are concerned with implementing traceability in their countries to ensure biosafety, food safety, and the welfare of farm animals.
The standard operating procedure (SOP), for example, is a type of process control, in which each step of the operations performed is described. However, the standardization of processes and the adoption of management systems are not efficient if they are not accompanied by certification.
Certification is the guarantee that the product has the quality specified on its label and is also a way to avoid opportunistic actions by producers or companies with misleading advertising.
This authentication represents a set of procedures by which a certifying entity recognizes and attests that the product meets pre-established requirements. The certification must be provided by an independent body that will act as a quality tool and provide basic control guidelines.
The required information is provided through a labeling system that demonstrates the records made in the production chain, ensuring quality for the consumer.
The labeling stage also considers an association between the links in the chain, allowing the transfer of information from one segment to another. For this, it is necessary to identify the product. The identification itself has no meaning, so it must be linked to a central data storage system, which provides access to all links in the production chain, including for the consumer.
Traceability in the animal nutrition industry
Traceability in the feed sector is directly related to food security, ethics, and commercial responsibility. The existence of an adequate and integrated traceability system, covering animals and animal products, is essential to carry out an effective risk assessment throughout the production chain.
This goes for both animal health and food safety related to animal-origin foods. In particular, an effective food security policy must recognize the interconnected stages of food production and, therefore, the need for an accurate system to assess and monitor the risks associated with raw materials, agricultural practices, and food processing.
The traceability of products of animal origin requires a method to identify animals from the moment of birth, to the breeding environment, to production, through carcasses or cuts, packaging, and transport/storage configurations, at all stages of the supply chain. Identification numbers must be applied and recorded accurately, to ensure a link between them.
Traceability must be an upward and downward way, that is, it must be able to trace products from the animal to the final product and the other way around, the entire source of its food, medicines, etc.
Thus, according to the World Organization For Animal Health (OIE), traceability of animal feed is important not only to ensure the health and safety of animals, but also to meet the mentioned requirements in the processing of food products of animal origin.
Identification represents the first step towards a certification system based on the traceability of information. With this it’s possible to monitor animal feed, whether they have a vegetable or animal origin, the way they were processed, packaged, stored, and transported to the processing industries.
As a result, it allows the identification of the animal’s nutrition history, making it possible to find inputs better suited to the animals’ needs and preventing the spread of diseases.
A good food safety policy requires efficient regulatory action to manage risks and implement effective system control to monitor and comply with regulations.
Each element is an important part of the process as a whole. Thus, changes in agricultural practices, in the production and processing of animal feed often require amendments and regulations, while feedback from control systems helps to identify and manage existing and emerging risks.
Each stage of the cycle is considered critical. Therefore, to ensure the highest security for the production, processing standards are applied.
The identification of high-risk components in food production – for example, feed production, animal husbandry, transportation, slaughter processing, additional processing, retail or consumption practice – requires knowledge of the raw materials market, semi-manufactured goods batches and final products, up to the final product that is sold to the consumer.
An effective traceability system can only be achieved by monitoring the entire production system. This will make possible the collection of all the necessary information at critical points in the production chain, resulting in a clear improvement in the efficiency of the process data.
Monitoring of all aspects is carried out by mapping the critical points of the process, in order to avoid system risks based on hypothetical problems and implementing corrective actions in case they happen.
How to choose suitable inputs for animal nutrition
The quality of the inputs involves all aspects of nutritional, sensory, technological, visual, ethical and sanitary and food security values, and it can only be guaranteed with the adoption of production standardization systems (such as the implementation of good practices of production manufacturing, the HACCP), traceability and certification that these practices are being adopted.
For the inputs producer, according to a study, it implies:
- That all responsibility taken for animal feed is under manufacturers, farmers, the food industry and also retailers responsibility, so that the quality of the products sold when it comes to the safety of the final products is achieved;
- That animal feed, food products and all ingredients are completely traceable.
It is important to emphasize that it is essential to have suppliers that have implemented a traceability process with proven certification. In addition to advertising ethics and transparency in the production and distribution processes of products, the traceability system provides fundamental characteristics such as flexibility, easy handling, and a powerful management tool.
The latter is considered of greater importance, because it gives customers the ability to track a certain product, and consequently there is greater control of risks. In this context, in order to be successful in this industry, it is necessary to inspect and have active surveillance in place, thus preventing vulnerabilities from harming the system.
For the development of quality and safe feeds it is essential to use strategies for processing control, such as the implementation of product traceability that aims to find the causes of quality failures, making a history of the product, all the way from the field to the final consumer.
In this way, traceability allows the control of the animal’s nutrition, thus enabling the development of feed that is appropriate to the needs of the animals, preventing diseases.
However, in addition to implementing traceability, it is essential to adopt production standardization systems with proven certification.
BRF Ingredients has a 100% traceable production process, ensuring consistency and fresh raw material audited by international certificate bodies. Find out more here!