Traceability and tracking of meat in the EU
It is very important to know where the meat and cured meats we are eating are coming from. But what is exactly the meaning of traceability and tracking? Often the two terms are used interchangeably, but they are not exactly synonymous, although they represent two sides of the same coin.
Traceability means the ability to describe the path of a raw material or a quantity of production through the passageways from one business entity to another, within the production chain: from production, to processing, up to distribution. In essence, the flow of goods is accompanied by a flow of informations, which are adequately recorded and retained at each step. Tracking, however, implies the possibility to reconstruct backward the entire path of a product, from its final state to the starting raw materials.
These approaches are essential elements in the management of food security, because they allow the reconstruction of the characteristics and history of a food along the production chain, as well as ensuring a timely withdrawal from the market, when issues appear related to the quality or safety that pose a risk to the consumer.
Since 2005, the legislation requires that all food products are properly tracked, involving in this process all the players in the food chain. The obligation of traceability also applies to products of foreign origin (in whole or in part), and permits finding the origins of the raw materials.
In addition to being a fundamental prerequisite for the management of safety and food emergencies, traceability has an important role ensuring the quality of the product: by a careful system of documentation, in fact, all the checks carried out on processes and products can be traced in every production stage.
The Sustainable Meat Project