“The benefits of supply-chain traceability” – featured in Snack Food & WholeSale Bakery Magazine, Feb 2015.
By Romy Schafer
“The last five years have seen many foodborne-illness-related issues in the food-supply chain,” says Brad Lindemann, president, Matrix Controls Co. Inc., Somerset, NJ, noting that many of these could potentially close a company down if it couldn’t react promptly to recalls. “Major retailers are now placing demands on food suppliers to have their internal processes audited by third-party suppliers—British Retail Consortium, Safe Quality Food, AIB—in addition to meeting basic food-safety guidelines imposed by the FDA. Food companies now have shorter recall time scales, and internal processes are under scrutiny, forcing manufacturers to look at improving and automating traceability.”
The company uses software and hardware to automate and facilitate lot trace data collection, from material receiving through finished product shipment, says Lindemann. Unique lot codes are assigned to incoming materials and sub-batches, including bulk and hand-scaled ingredients and packaging materials, which are identified with barcode labels that can be scanned throughout the process. Finished product is scanned into sales orders for final customers and shippers.
In addition to providing users with automated lot traceability required by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and customers, Lindemann says the system also facilitates procedures and data collection for other aspects required by SQF, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and HACCP programs. “The side benefits of this process are real-time, real-material inventory, minimization of overscaling and minimization of batch inconsistency,” he adds. “Tracking materials, sub-batches, batches and finished product may also help limit the volume of a recall, should one occur.”