The purpose of traceability in the production phase of food manufacturing is to track how food was developed, handled, and sold. Tracking through the production phase aids in the ability to trace the origin of disease. “Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to establish general traceability regulations for livestock moving interstate. The purpose is to improve APHIS’ ability to trace livestock in the event disease is found.”1 Implementation of the NWCTI system would do this with the added protection of the individuals in the production phase. Traceability systems often come with a hefty price tag. Crandall et al., discusses this issue saying, “Livestock producers are justifiably concerned about the added expense associated with maintaining audit-able records that will permit tracing of an individual animal from birth to the point of harvest.”2 The NWCTI system was developed with this issue in mind. The initial cost of the system is high, but with guaranteed quality products consumers will be comfortable paying a higher price.
The purpose of traceability in the processing phase of food production is to track the fabrication, handling, processing, packing, distribution, and overall protection of food. Some records in processing are already required, “Traceability in slaughter and processing areas of beef production is strictly voluntary beyond records required by the Federal Meat Inspection Act, Wholesome meat Act, HACCP Regulations and BSE regulations.”2 Federal regulations make processors maintain a sanitary environment for the products. Traceability would make the information processors are already recording more readily available to consumers.
Food Safety
The ultimate goal of traceability is to aide in increasing food safety for consumers. Traceability gives the ability to maintain this safety concept, through the ability to trace the origin of food. This concept is most beneficial in the case of a food recall. Traceability will increase the effectiveness of a recall by tracing where the item originated and will know exactly where this item was sold during retail.

Traceability is usually associated with food risk and safety issues (Giraud and Amblard, 2003), but can potentially be used to ascertain both food safety and food quality. For example, traceability may be a powerful tool to help to establish the authenticity of food, and to check that claims made by producers about food are true.3

  1. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (2011). Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate. Regulatory Impact Analysis & Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis.
  2. Crandall, PG, CA O’Bryan, D. Babu, N. Jarvis, M. Davis, M. Buser, B. Adam, J. Marcy, (__yr__). Whole-chain Traceability, is it possible to know where your hamburger came from?
  3.  Rijswijk, W., Frewer, L. (2008). Consumer perceptions of food quality and safety and their relation to traceability. British Food Journal 110 (10). P. 1034-1046. doi: 10.1108/00070700810906642