Meat Traceability – Things To Consider When Coding & Marking
Whilst the utmost care is taken to ensure that meat for human consumption is processed in hygienic environments, the law requires that meat packs are coded for traceability purposes; partly with the aim of enabling the consumer to have greater confidence in the food on their plate.
Packers need to ensure that the codes they deliver onto meat products can give customers and those further along the supply chain all the information they need to trace where it has come from effectively. With 8,000 tonnes less red meat sold in the UK over 2012/13 according to the Guardian, it is something they need to address to ensure they maintain sales in a changing market.
Coding and marking for meat packaging
Coding machines have the ability to deliver traceability information such as the source of the meat, or where it was processed, on products and their packaging, helping to ensure that consumers have peace of mind when they purchase meat (or other food).
Meat processors have various ways in which they can deliver traceability and peace of mind through coding. Whether these are 2D QR codes as has been done in Thailand to help trace meat produce or other measures, packers need to have confidence that their coding and marking printers can deliver the right information on products that will stay put – whatever the substrate.
Human error – for example selecting the wrong message to be printed, or entering a code incorrectly - can also potentially cause production delays and product scrappage. However coding technology can help to alleviate this through advances such as remote control or monitoring of printers, or easy-to-use image-based operating software. This means packers have less to worry about, such as costly downtime in an industry that can little afford it.
Why do we need traceability codes?
Traceability requirements are partly designed to help consumers have greater confidence in where their food has come from and improve the accountability of manufacturers; as such legislation has set out a number of laws to deliver just this.
EU and national regulations mean this information has to be in place by law. However it is not just helpful information for consumers, who can tell quickly the origin of their food, but also ensures that any product recalls are limited to the specific items affected – minimizing disruption to a meat processing business.
Traceability can also help to support the integrity of different types of meat manufacture and processing, for example halal, kosher, or organic meat; all of which should be processed under strict guidelines.
Traceability was even identified as one of the top 10 trends to come in 2014 by Food Manufacture, citing an increased number of mentions of ‘origins’ in product launches of 45% when comparing 2013 to 2012. Therefore, packers need to know that they have the ability to deliver high-quality codes when necessary.