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Australia’s food traceability scored as ‘average’ in OECD review

September 2, 2014
Food & Drink

European Union countries rank higher than the rest of the world in terms of global food traceability regulations and requirements, a report in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety has found. The report, published by the Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC), evaluates and compares the traceability regulations of 21 OECD countries.

“While there are a variety of benefits to global trading of food items, there are also many complications, particularly when it comes to tracing products internationally in the event of foodborne illness, animal or plant disease, or product recall,” said Sylvain Charlebois, PhD, Professor in the College of Business and Economics at the University of Guelph, one of the authors of the report.

“This report provides a comparative assessment to aid in discussions concerning harmonisation of food traceability requirements and where countries can continue to focus on improvements.”

Countries scored as ‘Superior’ included member countries of the European Union, plus the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries of Norway and Switzerland. Australia, Canada, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand and the US were ranked as ‘Average’. China was ranked as ‘Poor’, while the Russian Federation was not ranked due to insufficient information.

Each country was evaluated and ranked based on aggregated responses to a series of questions developed to assess their traceability policies and programs. The questions covered topics such as:

  • Whether mandatory traceability regulations exist at the national level
  • If regulations include imported products
  • The nature of required documentation for imports
  • If an electronic database for traceability exists and, if present, its accessibility
  • If labelling regulations allow consumer access to help their understanding of traceability.

“Currently, the complexity of following food through a global supply chain makes the process of traceability slow and inefficient in times of crisis,” said Brian Sterling, Managing Director of the Global Food Traceability Center, one of the authors of the report.

“This is why it’s imperative that traceability requirements and regulations be harmonised across the globe. Industry and regulators need to minimise the potential for misunderstanding and delays due to difficulties in understanding each country’s practices. Harmonising requirements has been shown to mitigate unnecessary costs of compliance.”

Source: Food Processing

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