The identification of the origin of feed and food ingredients and food sources is of prime importance for the protection of consumers, particularly when products are found to be faulty. Traceability facilitates the withdrawal of foods and enables consumers to be provided with targeted and accurate information concerning implicated products.
Regulation EC/178/2002 defines traceability as the ability to trace and follow food, feed, and ingredients through all stages of production, processing and distribution.
The Regulation contains general provisions for traceability (applicable from 1 January 2005) which cover all food and feed, all food and feed business operators, without prejudice to existing legislation on specific sectors such as beef, fish, GMOs etc. Importers are similarly affected as they will be required to identify from whom the product was exported in the country of origin. Unless specific provisions for further traceability exist, the requirement for traceability is limited to ensuring that businesses are at least able to identify the immediate supplier of the product in question and the immediate subsequent recipient, with the exemption of retailers to final consumers (one step back-one step forward).
Factsheet on Traceability, June 2007