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5 December 2015

Tracking and tracing: two basic steps in industrial production

What are the differences between these two elements required in the food chain?

Traceability is one of the basic requirements of Regulation 178, which also obliges companies in the food industry to guarantee everything that the business sources or which is sold to third parties. Consequently, this is a key step in the production chain; but another vital element is traceability.

The two terms sound very similar, but they refer to two different things. We asked Guglielmo Scandolara, head of quality control at Fumagalli Food Industry Spa, to help us understand what differentiates tracking from traceability.
“Many people confuse these two words and think they refer to the same thing,” explains Scandolara. “Tracking actually refers to the act of giving something a name, i.e. identifying raw materials that enter the production process or the seasoning used; in short, any ingredient that enters the company. Traceability, however, means reconstructing the history of a product. ”

To illustrate this difference, Fumagalli’s quality control manager uses a lovely example: “In the fairy tale of Tom Thumb, Tom lays a trail correctly by using little stones and so he’s able to reconstruct the route taken – that’s the history of our product. The second time, however, Tom gets it wrong and uses breadcrumbs, which are eaten by birds so he isn’t able to reconstruct the path”.

“Tracking is absolutely crucial in a food production company. And it’s only because of the traceability that we can reconstruct the history of each product created in the company.”
Taking definite steps, which are documented, and storing information are the elements that ensure the quality of our food products.
It’s only by knowing the production process exactly that we can intervene, whenever there is a problem: we can correct it to prevent it happening again, thus ensuring consumer safety and optimizing the industrial processes of production.


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