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3 Benefits of Supply Chain Traceability for Your Business

Imagine for a minute that you get the phone call all companies dread. It’s the “I am dissatisfied with my product” call, direct from a customer. You take the call, help the customer, and move on, right? You’re feel good about solving the problem — and are definitely not thinking about supply chain traceability.

A few days go by, then you’re flooded with more complaints, none of which seem to be related. You scramble to identify the root cause of all your problems, but you don’t know where to look. What should you do?

This is when you should be thinking about supply chain traceability. It is the key to having total insight into how your products get made, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. By employing supply chain traceability, you can:

  • Assure your brand and customers are protected
  • Maintain regulatory compliance
  • Pinpoint common problems, such as counterfeits and diversion

Let’s take a deeper look into each of these benefits.

1. Supply chain traceability for brand protection and customer satisfaction

Customers grade a brand on both the quality of its products and how it responds when an issue arises. Brands build loyalty with their customers by being transparent and demonstrating consistent product and service quality. Brands lose customers by failing to respond to complaints and recalls.

Response to complaints and recalls

Supply chain traceability is helpful when investigating a customer complaint. It is also essential when assessing a potential recall or managing an actual recall.

All the products you make and sell must have identification that traces back their source. Manufacturers and retailers can follow a problematic unit backward through its life cycle. Information collected through traceability includes:

  • Date and time of manufacturing
  • Equipment used for manufacturing and packaging
  • Personnel involved in manufacturing and packaging
  • Raw materials and components
  • Physical locations of inventory throughout its life

In a best-case scenario, the complaint is an isolated incident that’s easy to fix. But if the complaint means there’s been a breakdown somewhere or a product has been compromised, a recall may be triggered.

Recalls happen for any number of reasons. For example, you might discover a material that is out of specification. Once identified, it is necessary to trace all usage of that material. Another example is contamination, especially in the food supply chain.

A recall of any size can have a significant impact on your business. Having a supply chain traceability system will speed recalls, improve cooperation with regulators and other authorities, enable better information-sharing with your customers, and reduce damage to your brand reputation. Faster batch recalls are possible only when there is a robust supply chain traceability system.

Transparency about sourcing

A study conducted by the Consumer Goods Forum found that “70 percent of consumers are most interested in transparency about products.” Customers want to know where the materials used in their products came from and how they were sourced.

Some companies are publishing reports to make their supply chains and operations more transparent — and to make their brand more appealing to consumers. In addition to how they source materials, they’re sharing information about things such as:

  • Origins and purposes of raw ingredients
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Safe handling practices along the supply chain
  • The brand’s mission and values

This type of “transparency marketing” is effective in the food and consumer packaged goods industries, as it entices consumers to make a purchase because they’re getting the product information they demand.

A 2016 study by Label Insight indicated that 94 percent of consumers are not only likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency but are willing to pay more for products that meet such standards. This has powerful implications for brands; it shows that transparency made possible with supply chain traceability inspires product and brand loyalty.

2. Supply chain traceability is key to compliance

Being able to track material movement and consumption is critical for regulatory compliance.

The ISO 9000 Standards Series is the basis for most industries’ standards and provides expectations to help companies structure their quality management systems. Within these standards, traceability is defined as “The ability to trace the history, application, use and location of an item or its characteristics through recorded identification data.”

To meet this standard, it’s critical to be able to identify individual product units. Also, you must collect information about subcomponents. This information will allow for the tracing of parts of products throughout your supply chain.

Serialization makes supply chain track and trace easier

Serialization is the process of assigning unique identifiers to outbound and inbound materials. This makes the parts of products easier to track and trace throughout your processes. Utilizing software such as our Serialization Processing solution will save you time and effort in managing your supply chain.

Collecting supply chain data on your materials and finished products can also help to identify problems before they become an issue. This empowers you to be proactive and assess what works well (or what does not work well) throughout your entire supply chain process, which allows you to standardize your work processes and cut out waste.

Prove your product claims

Marketing claims must be substantiated, not only to consumers but also to regulatory agencies. Claims about sustainable sourcing, organic certifications, and other attributes can be demonstrated with supply chain traceability. Safe and compliant handling of products is also best demonstrated with traceability. Many retailers and manufacturers have routine audits to assure that they have processes to trace a product’s life cycle. In some industries, the results of these audits are available as public information.

Regulations evolve over time

Regulatory requirements for the documentation of traceability are constantly evolving. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published the “Proposed Rule for Food Traceability,” which called for additional traceability records for certain foods. The FDA is encouraging the voluntary adoption of these new practices for all food products. These new requirements will affect all who manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods.

We’ve written extensively about the FDA’s push for traceability in modern food supply chain. For example, check out “Food Traceability Regulations in the United States: A Timeline.”

rfxcel is prepared to help you comply with all current and future requirements in any industry, including food and beverage, life sciences/pharmaceuticals, government, and consumer goods. We track industry regulations and guidance documents for upcoming and proposed legislation. We have software solutions that take the guesswork out of compliance no matter where you do business.

3. Combat counterfeits and diversion/theft by identifying supply chain weak spots

One of the worst things that can happen to any business is having their products counterfeited or stolen.

Counterfeits not only result in a direct loss of sales, but your customers might lose faith in your brand. If a person winds up with an inferior counterfeit product with your name and logo on it, there’s a good chance they will be dissatisfied with your brand and take their business somewhere else. And if your products are diverted or stolen, then you’re losing money and might have a much larger supply chain problem on your hands.

Supply chain traceability is like a forensic tool to help fight counterfeits and diversion — and host of other problems. Here’s how it works:

  • You know the origin of your ingredients. You can verify that all ingredients or components are legitimate. You can see the history of any ingredient, including its origin and when it was combined with other ingredients to make a finished product.
  • You can trace a product’s every move. Traceability means you can see everywhere a product has been before, during, and after it was harvested or manufactured. You can see every case or box, every pallet, every delivery vehicle, every stop along the supply chain (e.g., a warehouse, a retail store, a pharmacy or hospital). Even after a product has been unloaded from the delivery vehicle and taken out of cases or boxes, you see where individual units have been right up to the time the consumer takes possession (check-out at the cash register, dispensation at a clinic, etc.).
  • You can pinpoint where a product might have been harmed or compromised. Traceability data will show if a shipment strayed from its prescribed route, which could indicate theft or other mischief that could harm your bottom line and brand. Serialization, compliance, real-time monitoring, and other supply chain traceability solutions create a provenance that can demonstrate the legitimacy and purity of every product.

Final thoughts

We hope you have a better idea of how supply chain traceability can help your brand and business. Traceability is a crucial aspect of managing your business operations.

Are you ready to get started? Setting up your own supply chain traceability system might seem daunting, but rfxcel is here to help. We have easy-to-use, scalable solutions for all of your track and trace needs, no matter what industry you’re in.

Contact us today if you would like to see a short demo of how we can help you to build an effective traceability system. Together, we can protect your brand, ensure regulatory compliance, and fight counterfeits and theft.

Supply Chain Traceability Systems Make Your Business Better

One of the best ways to get more people to buy your products is to inspire consumer confidence. And one of the best ways to increase consumer confidence is to insist on airtight food safety protocols, which absolutely should include supply chain traceability systems.

Are there some areas where your food safety can improve? It’s always a good idea to periodically reflect on what you and your team are doing. This will allow you to improve on weak spots in your food supply chain. Supply chain traceability systems are a huge help.

Most important, the ability to trace everything in your supply chain ensures you are delivering safe food to your customers — and building consumer confidence. It also helps ensure compliance with regulations. So, if you don’t have traceability in your supply chain, you should consider implementing a system as soon as possible.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits supply chain traceability systems can bring to your business.

What are supply chain traceability systems?

Supply chain traceability systems are a powerful tool for any industry. They give you the ability to know where your ingredients and finished products have been and where they’re going as they move through your supply chain, through the “life cycle” of your business. They are particularly helpful with maintaining product safety and minimizing and proactively managing issues that could harm your business, such as a recall.

Advantages of supply chain traceability

There’s no doubt supply chain traceability systems will save your company time, money, and effort. But what specifically can they do for you? Let’s look further into the benefits of implementing a food safety program with supply chain traceability.

Effective recall management

Supply chain traceability is a key part of recall management. The food industry is one of the most vulnerable to recalls. A recent example is Tyson Chicken. On July 3, 2021, the food giant had to recall almost 9 million pounds of ready-to-eat chicken in the United States. Thanks to supply chain traceability, however, Tyson could work quickly and effectively with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pinpointing when the products were made and what labels were on the packaging, notifying consumers, and mitigating further troubles.

Needless to say, a recall of any size can hurt profitability and brand reputation. But supply chain traceability systems help manage damage. As we’ve discussed before, having the proper systems in place for effective recall management is paramount for protecting your business’ profitability and your brand reputation.

Regulatory compliance

Another advantage of implementing supply chain traceability systems is meeting regulatory requirements. The FDA keeps a watchful eye over food supply chain processes in the United States. And, with much of our food traveling far and wide before it reaches our plates, those processes require many moving parts. Being aware of where your food has been, where it is now, where it’s going, who is handling it, and how long it’s been in transit are all helpful metrics to keep your operation in compliance with the FDA and other regulatory agencies.

The FDA is pushing hard for more traceability standards, and consumers are more aware of where their food is coming from and demanding more information about what they eat. This is yet another reason why traceability is so important today.

Maximized efficiency

Being able to trace (and track) your products as they move through your supply chain also allows you to identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks. In other words, end-to-end traceability maximizes operational efficiency. It will enable you to see which processes are working well and which ones aren’t.

Supply chain traceability systems also help you cut costs. If you have rich data that quantifies that a particular process (or trading partner) is inefficient, you can take steps to improve it or remove it from your supply chain process.

Consumer engagement

Believe it or not, traceability will also help your sales. Customers love stories — and they’re demanding more information about the products they buy. Smart companies will use their supply chain traceability systems as part of their marketing, connecting with consumers by telling their story and sharing information about their products.

You see this all of the time in the food industry. In commercials, companies highlight how far their products have traveled and how much care goes into making, packaging, and shipping them. This kind of advertising paints a picture of the journey the products take to arrive in a customer’s home and emphasizes the qualities people want (e.g., salmon from Alaska or peaches from Georgia). Being able to “play up” the source and the journey will make your food products more appealing to shoppers.

Communicating with stakeholders

You always need to consider input from stakeholders. Supply chain traceability is an effective way to keep them happy. Making stakeholders aware of this information is known as supply chain transparency.

Supply chain transparency is an important part of your business. While food safety and quality are important, you also need to keep your trading partners in the loop. Any effective supply chain transparency plan has three main components.

The first component is the “what” of your supply chain traceability. What information are you going to share with your stakeholders? You’re also going to want to determine what format you’re going to use to display the information.

The next step is to decide the “who. Who needs to see this information? Several different groups might need it, such as internal stakeholders, vendors, suppliers, clients, and consumers. You’ll also want to consider why they need to have it.

Last, you’ll want to consider the “when. When are your people going to get this information? And how often?

You’ll also need to decide how often to update your information. Today, the trend is toward real-time updates. This is the ideal scenario, but it can be a challenge to attain. Supply chains involve a lot of moving parts and have many different nodes or tiers. Providing real-time updates in this complex framework requires efficient, streamlined operations utilizing supply chain traceability systems.

Supply chain mapping

Supply chain mapping — the process of mapping every tier of your supply chain with easy-to-follow imagery — is an effective way to keep all your stakeholders happy. A supply chain map doesn’t show every person involved in the process; instead, it shows all of the players within each tier of the supply chain.

One of the benefits of supply chain mapping is that it presents an opportunity for risk assessment. Seeing your supply chain clearly mapped out allows your management team to decide which areas need to be carefully monitored. You can also analyze your supply chain with a “bird’s-eye view” and decide if you need to make adjustments for greater efficiency.

Safer, healthier food

Today, grocery stores are full of food that’s touted as being locally sourced, sustainably caught, and so on. How can companies make and prove these claims? With end-to-end supply chain traceability data. Making these types of claims requires companies to make sure they are tracking the right metrics to support them. Companies also need to leverage the correct technology to support these initiatives.

Examples of how supply chain traceability systems work

How do companies achieve end-to-end supply chain traceability? Keeping track of your products and all the important metrics requires modern technology.

One of the ways companies are doing this is by putting QR codes and 2D Data Matrix codes on their packaging. These codes contain important information and can be scanned as products move through the supply chain. This allows vendors, suppliers, and people responsible for transport to “check the food in” at various points throughout the process and add important data, including critical tracking events (CTEs) and key data elements (KDEs).

Leveraging this technology is a critical aspect of today’s supply chain traceability systems. It helps companies keep track of where their products are at all times, throughout all nodes of the supply chain. For more information about it all works, download our new white paper, Traceability in the Food Supply Chain.

A quick word about blockchain

As technology moves forward, supply chain traceability systems also continue to evolve. One of the newest technologies with traceability applications is blockchain.

Most people probably associate blockchain with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. One of the reasons Bitcoin is so valuable is because it can be traced across the internet via the blockchain. Investors and computer programmers can map each Bitcoin to its proper place on a global digital ledger.

This and other characteristics give blockchain tremendous functionality in a wide array of industries. For food in particular, blockchain can help companies achieve a “locked down” supply chain, providing indisputable, verified data and a level of security not possible with other technologies.

What do you think tracking food products in the same manner as cryptocurrency would do for supply chain traceability systems? It’s still in the early stages, but blockchain could revolutionize traceability. It’s a complicated subject, so we encourage you to download our white paper, Blockchain-Based Supply Chain Traceability.

Final thoughts

Supply chain traceability systems are an essential part of any business. But they’re especially important in the food industry. The safety and quality of your product is the most important part of your business. Consumers’ health depends on it. Your brand reputation depends on it. Your bottom line depends on it.

rfxcel can help. We have the software solutions you need for your business — for supply chain traceability, regulatory compliance, serialization, monitoring, and even vaccine track and trace.

Contact us today if you have any questions about supply chain traceability systems or would like to see a short demo of how our solutions can help you build your business, no matter what your business is.

 

Dairy Traceability in 2021: The FDA, the Industry, and the Future

It’s June, and it’s definitely ice cream season! It was 96°F (35°C) at our headquarters in Reno, Nevada, yesterday. Naturally, when we think of ice cream, we think about dairy traceability. Dairy traceability ensures consumer safety and keeps vital supply chains moving.

Most of our readers can probably assume that their food was manufactured, processed, transported, and stored safely and in accordance with quality standards and safety regulations. But the World Health Organization estimates that 600 million people are sickened from contaminated food products every year — and as many as 420,000 die. Dairy products are among the biggest culprits, as they can carry pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses.

The implications are significant. And they illustrate why dairy traceability is so important. Let’s take a look at where we are with dairy traceability in 2021.

Dairy traceability: the industry perspective

Dairy traceability has been on the industry’s radar for quite some time. For example, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy has been an advocate since at least 2009, when its Globalization Report noted that traceability was, in so many words, the future of the dairy supply chain.

In 2013, the Center published Guidance for Dairy Product Enhanced Traceability. Now in its third iteration (July 2020), it addresses much of what the FDA wants, including establishing and maintaining records with key data elements (KDEs) associated with critical tracking events (CTEs). There’s also a 21-point Dairy Traceability Checklist that manufacturers can use to evaluate if they follow enhanced dairy traceability best practices.

Last, the Center created the U.S. Dairy Traceability Commitment, “designed by processors, for processors, to increase global competitiveness, help satisfy future requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and, in the rare event of a safety issue, quickly isolate products to protect public health and prevent brand damage.”

Dairy traceability: the FDA perspective

Traceability — including dairy traceability — and modernization have also been on the FDA’s radar. We’ve written about this before, so we won’t drill down into the details today. In a nutshell:

The new requirements, also known as the Food Traceability Proposed Rule, apply to many popular cheeses, including brie, camembert, feta, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, cottage cheese, ricotta, and queso fresco.

Dairy traceability in 2021

Just about a year after the FDA announced its New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy updated its Guidance for Dairy Product Enhanced Traceability, it’s clear the dairy industry and the FDA are trying to get on the same page.

Generally, the industry has been receptive to the FDA’s efforts. The International Dairy Foods Association, for example, supports the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint. Still, many in the industry say the Food Traceability Proposed Rule isn’t necessary because supply chain stakeholders have been modernizing and building traceability systems without a government mandate.

With that in mind, the International Dairy Foods Association submitted comments to the FDA asking it to revise the recordkeeping requirements, arguing that doing so would support more widespread adoption of dairy traceability across the industry, to the ultimate benefit of the public. The Association is also working with the FDA to ensure dairy manufacturers have the proper direction and tools that support more efficient food safety practices and dairy traceability protocols.

Final thoughts

This quick sketch of dairy traceability makes two things clear. First, the FDA is all-in on modernization and traceability. Second, the industry understands the need for dairy traceability and has shown its willingness to commit to maintaining a modern, traceable supply chain.

In this environment, rfxcel’s traceability solutions will help dairy companies in any market modernize their food safety protocols, facilitate end-to-end traceability in a digital supply chain, comply with evolving regulations, and maintain trust with customers. Contact us for more information about how we can help, and check back soon for more about traceability in the food supply chain.

 

Food Traceability Data: Not Just for Compliance Anymore

As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to evolve its traceability and modernization initiatives across the U.S. food supply chain, the need for more accurate food traceability data is more important than ever.

Foundationally, the FDA’s initiatives require companies to have digital traceability systems in place that facilitate greater food safety. But food traceability data means more than ensuring you’re complying with regulations: It offers significant business value. Let’s take a look.

FDA’s food traceability initiatives: a refresher

In 2011, Congress enacted the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested, and processed in the United States. The law transforms the nation’s food safety system from an after-the-fact response to foodborne illness to a proactive posture aimed at prevention.

To address the rapid and effective tracking and tracing outlined in FSMA, the FDA in April 2019 launched the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, a tech-enabled approach to food traceability to ensure food safety, and the New Era of Smarter Safety Blueprint (July 2020), which outlined the Agency’s vision for how to get there and included the Food Traceability Proposed Rule, which defines specific traceability recordkeeping requirements for foods on its Food Traceability List.

Food traceability data delivers benefits beyond mere compliance

Although food traceability data serves as the cornerstone of effective recall management and outbreak prevention as required by the FDA, it means much more than compliance. Here are three ways food traceability data can drive business value to support sustainable growth.

Create operational efficiencies

Food traceability data yields complete, real-time visibility into operations across every node in the supply chain. This empowers food companies to take immediate action, solve problems, coordinate with partners and regulators, and keep things moving.

For example, by tracking a product’s ingredients from harvest through production through the last mile to delivery, you can quickly trace raw materials backward and forward, pinpoint supply chain weaknesses or trouble spots, and strengthen your recall program and minimize the impact of recalls. And with a traceability system that allows you to monitor products anywhere in transit, you can collect data on environmental conditions, track the location of all your deliveries, and set precise parameters for alerts.

This food traceability data allows you to proactively protect your shipments, safeguard their environmental integrity, track their position on land, sea, and air, and intervene immediately should something seem awry, such as a spike in temperature or a route diversion. Add critical tracking events (CTEs) and other information (e.g., quality inspections) to the process and you’ve got an indelible product provenance from farm to table.

Build consumer engagement and trust

These days, consumers are more attuned than ever to family health and finances. They want to know more about what they’re eating, such as ingredients, how food is raised or grown, and the safety and environmental practices used to produce it. They want to feel good about what they eat and where they are spending their money. By supplying information that meets this demand, you build trust and loyalty and build a community of customers who will advocate for your products.

The simple truth is that food traceability data creates tremendous opportunities to communicate with consumers and nurture more committed relationships. You can back your claims and prove your product is what you say it is.

Protect your brand

This dovetails with consumer engagement and trust. With modernized, secure, and compliant food traceability protocols, you can better collaborate with partners and authorities if there’s a recall. In this scenario, you’re not only protecting consumers from a health hazard — you’re safeguarding your brand from bad publicity. And with a transparent approach to engaging with customers about the foods they consume, you create a strong brand image that conveys trust, credibility, and reliability. You can even use your food traceability data as a core differentiator in your value proposition messaging.

Final thoughts

Food traceability data has always been important, but the FDA has clearly put it center stage with FSMA, the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, the Food Traceability Proposed Rule, and the Food Traceability List.

Do not expect this to change.

rfxcel believes industry leaders will see traceability as an investment in their businesses and brands, not a compliance mandate from the government. If fact, savvy companies will know the FDA’s initiatives are an opportunity to be involved in shaping the future of the U.S. food supply chain. Keep an eye out this summer for more from rfxcel about how you can tap into the FDA’s initiatives to help lead the transformation of the U.S. food supply chain. As we said above, this is a moment of opportunity for the food industry. Don’t miss the boat.

In the meantime, take a look at our solutions for food and beverage:

Contact us today for more information and to schedule a short demo of our food traceability solutions. Get started now and take advantage of all the opportunities food traceability data can create for you.

Food Traceability Regulations in the United States: A Timeline

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is orchestrating the construction of a more robust, technology-driven approach to food traceability and safety. And it’s happening as the food industry is undergoing major change, including scores of new foods being introduced to the market, rising consumer demand for more information about the food they buy, the development of more sophisticated production and delivery methods, and a growing push for digitization of the supply chain.

As regulations in the United States continue to evolve, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers need to keep a finger on the pulse of the latest developments. Today, we’ll help with a quick rundown of what’s happened with food traceability over the last year.

Food traceability regulations in the United States: 2020-present

On September 23, 2020, the FDA published “Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods” on its Food Traceability List. Referred to as the “Food Traceability Proposed Rule,” it’s part of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint and aims to standardize the data elements and information required to rapidly and accurately identify foods that may be causing illness. It defines additional recordkeeping requirements for businesses that manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods on the FDA’s Food Traceability List, which must establish and maintain records containing key data elements (KDEs) associated with specific critical tracking events (CTEs).

In January 2021, the FDA made clarifying modifications to the Food Traceability List and published a detailed FAQ that answered commonly asked questions that emerged following the announcement of the Proposed Rule. In February 2021, the comments period for the modifications closed. The FDA has until November 2022 to finalize it.

More about the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint

These initiatives are part of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety. Announced in April 2019, it envisions a modern approach to ensuring food safety through digital, tech-enabled traceability.

The New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, announced in July 2020, outlines the FDA’s methodology for achieving its traceability and safety goals. It’s based on the following four pillars, which leverage a range of technologies, analytics, business models, modernization, and values as its building blocks:

1. Tech-enabled food traceability

A supply chain that includes paper-based recordkeeping and yields insufficient data makes it difficult to track and trace foods rapidly. Fast, accurate food traceability is essential to safeguarding consumers’ health — and your brand reputation and bottom line.

For example, modernized food traceability that leverages the latest technologies and integrates expanding data streams empowers supply chain stakeholders to identify an outbreak and trace a contaminated food product’s origin within minutes — or even seconds — and be proactive about getting the product off of shelves.

2. Smarter tools and approaches for prevention and outbreak response

In addition to better food traceability, the FDA wants to ensure the root cause of an outbreak or contamination can be easily identified to support a prevention-based approach. To do this, stakeholders need to incorporate new knowledge while continuously assessing how they can make processes and communications more effective and efficient. As more data becomes available, the use of predictive analytics tools becomes increasingly important to predict when a significant food event may occur. With this information, manufacturers can prevent a contaminated food products from entering the supply chain or target efforts to remove a potentially contaminated product from the market.

3. New business models and retail modernization

As the industry continues to find new ways to produce and distribute food, the FDA is seeking to explore new approaches in ensuring food traceability and safety. This includes:

  • Educating supply chain actors on the importance of food safety issues
  • Adapting FDA oversight to ensure the safety of novel ingredients, new foods, and new food production methods
  • Advancing the safety of foods sold in traditional retail establishments
4. Food safety culture

The FDA wants to encourage an environment of support for a stronger food safety culture on farms, in food facilities, and in homes. If the food industry does not commit to embracing food traceability and safety, real improvements will be difficult to achieve.

Final thoughts

We can be certain of two things when it comes to food traceability regulations in the United States: they’re going to keep evolving and they’re not going away. The good news is advancements in technology are making it profoundly easier — and even more affordable — to ensure food traceability across the entire supply chain. Yes, the FDA’s proposed requirements technically apply only to items on the Food Traceability List, but the Agency is encouraging voluntary adoption of these practices industry-wide. Savvy food companies will see this as an opportunity to get involved early and be part of the process, helping to set the industry’s regulatory course while going a long way to secure their own business.

rfxcel can help you comply with U.S. food traceability regulations today, tomorrow — always. From raw ingredients to finished goods, our rfxcel Traceability System (rTS) offers end-to-end food supply chain traceability and visibility. Our rfxcel Integrated Monitoring (rIM) is a real-time traceability and supply chain visibility solution that helps you remotely monitor products in transit And our MobileTraceability app brings the power of rTS to every node of your operations, including places that have traditionally been “blind spots.” Contact us today to arrange a demo.

DSCSA 2023: Understanding DSCSA Authorized Trading Partners, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our discussion about DSCSA authorized trading partners. The 10-year rollout of the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act — the DSCSA — is scheduled to conclude on November 27, 2023, so now’s a good time to take stock of where we are and what to expect over the coming months.

As we said in Part 1, everybody’s talking about DSCSA authorized trading partners — manufacturers, wholesale distributors, repackagers, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), and dispensers. From now until November 2023, it’s really all about ensuring these supply chain actors are ready to comply with the regulations.

Remember, under the DSCSA, authorized trading partners may engage in transactions only with other authorized trading partners. In other words, if you’re not a DSCSA authorized trading partner, your access to the U.S. pharma supply chain will be severely restricted or denied altogether.

Below, we finish our discussion of DSCSA authorized trading partners by defining who qualifies as a repackager, a 3PL, and a dispenser.

Repackagers

Repackagers own or operate an establishment that repacks and relabels a product or package for further sale or distribution without a further transaction.

Generally, dispensers (specifically pharmacies) are not considered repackagers. By this definition, a dispenser/pharmacy only packs and labels a product for dispensation to a person who has a valid prescription for that product; they do not do “bulk” repackaging.

Repackagers are considered trading partners if they accept or transfer direct ownership of a product from or to a manufacturer, another repackager, a wholesale distributor, or a dispenser. To be a DSCSA authorized trading partner, repackagers, like manufacturers, must be registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in accordance with Section 510 of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FD&C Act), “§360. Registration of producers of drugs or devices.”

3PLs

The DSCSA defines a 3PL as an “entity that provides or coordinates warehousing or other logistics services with regard to a product in interstate commerce on behalf of a manufacturer, wholesale distributor, or dispenser of a product, but does not take ownership of the product, nor have responsibility to direct the sale or disposition of the product.”

3PLs are considered trading partners if they accept or transfer direct possession of a product from or to a manufacturer, repackager, wholesale distributor, or dispenser. Returns processors and reverse logistics providers are considered 3PLs. There are two reasons for this:

  1. They provide other logistics services for other trading partners in a facility they own, rent, or lease.
  2. They do not take ownership of the product and do not direct the sale or disposition of the product.

Generally, brokers, solution providers, common carriers, and logistics or administrative services contractors are not considered 3PLs because they don’t provide or coordinate warehousing and don’t accept or transfer direct possession of the product. These stakeholders do not have to be licensed.

To be a DSCSA authorized trading partner, 3PLs must have a valid license under state law or FD&C Act Section 584(a)(1), “National Standards for Third-Party Logistics Providers,” in accordance with Section 582(a)(7), “Requirements, Third-party logistics provider licenses”, as amended by the DSCSA and in compliance with reporting requirements under Section 584(b).

Dispensers

To be considered a dispenser, you must meet one of three criteria:

  1. You’re a retail pharmacy, a hospital pharmacy, or a group of chain pharmacies under common ownership and control that do not act as a wholesale distributor.
  2. You’re a person legally authorized to dispense or administer prescription drugs.
  3. You’re an affiliated warehouse or distribution center of a dispenser under common ownership and control that does not act as a wholesale distributor.

A dispenser is considered a trading partner if they accept or transfer direct possession of a product from or to a manufacturer, repackager, wholesale distributor, or another dispenser. To be a DSCSA authorized trading partner, a dispenser must have a valid state license.

Generally, veterinarians are not considered dispensers, per FD&C Act Section 512(a)(5).

Final thoughts

The table below summarizes everything we’ve laid out above and in Part 1 of our DSCSA authorized trading partners series. It’s adapted from an August 2017 FDA publication.

As you’re reading, remember that all of our stakeholders are considered to be trading partners if they accept or transfer direct ownership of a product from or to a manufacturer, repackager, wholesale distributor, or dispenser. To be an DSCSA authorized trading partner, however, they must meet the criteria explained in the table.

There’s one last installment of our “DSCSA 2023” series coming soon. In it, we’ll talk about the key requirements for 2023 and the future of traceability in the pharma supply chain. While you’re waiting for that, take a moment to check out our webinars, white papers, pharmaceutical compliance solutions, and other resources about the DSCSA. If you feel inspired, contact us to schedule a demo to see our solutions in action.

DSCSA Authorized Trading Partners

DSCSA Authorized Trading Partners

Mandatory Dairy Product Labeling in Russia to Begin in Two Months

It’s going to be a busy year for dairy product labeling in Russia. (If you missed our earlier overview, be sure to check it out.) In fact, it’s going to be a busy year for product labeling in Russia generally. A quick look at our blog reveals that the National Track and Trace Digital System, or Chestny ZNAK, is not relenting on its goal of transforming Russia’s supply chain by 2024:

But let’s stay focused on dairy product labeling, which is scheduled to commence on June 1 for two product categories, then will be phased in for two other categories later in the year.

Dairy product labeling in Russia: background

The Chestny ZNAK pilot for dairy product labeling from July 15, 2019, to December 31, 2020. The dairy supply chain has a unique configuration because Chestny ZNAK will share track and trace duties with the “Mercury” electronic veterinary certification system, which tracks animal products in Russia.

Dairy product labeling requires a DataMatrix code containing four data points: a 14-digit Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), a 13-digit serial number, a 4-digit verification key, and an expiration date.

Other dairy product labeling requirements include the following:

  • Product packaging must have a blank field up to 15×15 mm to accommodate the DataMatrix code.
  • Caps on PET bottles must be able to accommodate either printing or labeling with a laser.
  • Manufacturers can have unusually shaped cartons or bottles tested to determine if the form factor affects dairy product labeling and scanning accuracy/reliability.
  • Aggregation is required; the parent-child relationship must be maintained between the aggregation and the individual units within it.

If you want to learn more about Russian dairy product labeling, download our “Russia Chestny ZNAK and the Dairy Industry” white paper. It’s fully updated for 2021 and really drills down into the details.

While we’re at it, if you want to learn about product labeling and serialization for all of the industries regulated in Russia, download our “Overview of Chestny ZNAK Compliance for Key Industries.” This is also fully updated for 2021 and is our most comprehensive publication about Russian supply chain compliance.

The June 1 dairy labeling requirements

Mandatory dairy product labeling begins June 1 for cheeses and ice cream and other edible ice with or without cocoa. Only serialized products can be sold after this date. However, products produced or imported into Russia before June 1 may be sold until the product’s expiration date.

Companies were permitted to begin labeling these cheese and ice cream products as early as January 20, 2021. They were also allowed to transfer dairy product labeling data to the Government Information System for Marking (GIS MT), which catalogs all labeled goods in Russia’s supply chain. To transfer data to GIS MT, you must be registered with Chestny ZNAK.

The table below shows Russia’s product classification codes (OKPD2) and the corresponding Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) Combined Nomenclature of Foreign Economic Activity (TN VED) codes for labeling these products. This information comes from Chestny ZNAK.

Russia Dairy Product Labeling

 

Final thoughts

rfxcel is the leader in Chestny ZNAK compliance. Not just for dairy product labeling — for labeling requirements in all regulated industries. We know these regulations can be tough to decipher. To help, we have useful resources, like the stories we linked above, our Chestny ZNAK refresher course, our white papers, and our webinars.

These are great places to start, but the best way to ensure you’re prepared to comply with Russia dairy product labeling requirements is to talk with us directly. When we say we’re the leader in Russian compliance, consider our credentials:

  • We’re an official integration, software, and tested solution partner with the Center for Research in Perspective Technologies (CRPT), which operates Chestny ZNAK.
  • We were recently accredited as an IT company by the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media.
  • We’re one of the few providers with active implementations in Russia.
  • We’ve tripled our workforce in Russia over the last year.
  • Our Moscow-based team provides our clients, which include major global consumer goods and pharmaceutical companies, the quickest time to market while fully automating their compliance reporting.

We’ve also demonstrated that our solutions, including our signature rfxcel Traceability System (rTS), Compliance Management (rCM), and Serialization Processing (rSP), can meet the stringent Russia dairy serialization requirements and ensure you stay compliant. In fact, we had to prove this to the CRPT to be named an official partner. rTS works seamlessly with Chestny ZNAK, including a Russian-language user interface that makes integration and startup much quicker.

So contact us today learn more about how we can help you with dairy product labeling and other Chestny ZNAK compliance. No matter how far along you are in your preparations to comply, you should talk to us — even if you’re already working with another provider. Our powerful software ensures companies in any industry remain compliant with Russia’s complex regulations.

 

 

 

 

Russia Chestny ZNAK Bottled Drinking Water Pilot Ending Soon

A year ago today — April 1, 2020 — Russia started its Chestny ZNAK bottled drinking water pilot. Chestny ZNAK is Russia’s National Track and Trace Digital System, which is transforming how the country runs and regulates the supply chain for everything from pharmaceuticals to fur. It’s managed by the Center for Research in Perspective Technologies (CRPT).

If all goes as planned, the Chestny ZNAK bottled drinking water pilot will wrap up on June 1. Let’s take a quick look at the pilot and what we can expect going forward.

The Chestny ZNAK bottled drinking water pilot

As we said, the pilot (or “experiment,” as these projects are called in Russia) began on April 1, 2020, and is scheduled to end just two months from now, on June 1. The bottled drinking water category includes mineral and carbonated waters, waters without sweeteners or other flavoring, and non-carbonated water. The table below shows the Eurasian Economic Union Combined Nomenclature of Foreign Economic Activity (TN VED) code for the products that must be labeled, as provided by Chestny ZNAK.

 

BOTTLED DRINKING WATER

Pilot: April 1, 2020–June 1, 2021

TN VED CodeDescription
2201Beverages and spirits and vinegar: waters, including natural or artificial mineral waters and aerated (i.e., carbonated) waters, not containing added sugar or other sweetening matter nor flavored; ice and snow

 

Like pilots for other industries, the Chestny ZNAK bottled drinking water pilot tests end-to-end tracking and tracing of marked goods from manufacturing sites or import/customs locations to final sale to consumers. It’s also designed to determine the best approaches for marking and tracing products, including testing methods of applying codes to different types of packaging, such as PET bottles and bottles with irregular shapes.

Chestny ZNAK, which is now in its fourth year of operation, generally requires products to be labeled with a 2D DataMatrix code containing four data points: a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), a serial number, a verification key, and a verification code (i.e., crypto code).

The DataMatrix codes being used in the Chestny ZNAK bottled drinking water pilot must contain three data points: a 14-digit GTIN, a 13-character serial number, and a 4-character verification code. An optional fourth data point can include information such as the minimum retail price and expiration date. Product packaging is required to have a blank field up to 15×15mm to accommodate the code.

The pilot’s goals include the following:

  • Supply chain actors order DataMatrix codes and apply them to products.
  • All labeling information is transferred electronically to Chestny ZNAK.
  • Products in shipping packages are aggregated; codes for each unit in the aggregation are also aggregated.
  • Marked products enter circulation.
  • Products are tracked and traced in the supply chain, and stakeholders exchange Universal Transfer Documents (UTDs) to record transfer of codes.
  • Consumers purchase goods, which are withdrawn from circulation at checkout via point-of-sale cash registers and scanning devices.

Final thoughts

The CRPT has not announced when mandatory marking of bottled water products will begin. If the pilot ends on schedule, there will likely be a final report and review period, so it could be late 2021 or even early 2022 before you’ll have to comply.

Regardless, the time to think about compliance is now. If you want more details about the Chestny ZNAK bottled drinking water pilot — or any of the regulated industries — start by downloading our white papers. We’ve updated all of our Russia white papers for 2021 and included even more details about what you need to know and do to be compliant.

You should also contact us. We’ve been prepared for Russia’s regulations since 2018. Here a just a few of the reasons why we’re the leader in Chestny ZNAK compliance:

  • We are an official software and integration partner of the CRPT.
  • We’re accredited as an IT company by the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media.
  • We are one of only a few providers with in-country implementations; clients include global consumer goods and pharma companies.
  • Our powerful software ensures companies in any industry will remain compliant while mastering their supply chains with end-to-end traceability and rich, actionable data mined right down to the unit level.

We’ll be posting more about what to expect with Chestny ZNAK requirements in 2021. There’s definitely a lot going on — including pilots for biologically active food additives and beer getting under way now — so check back often.

Food Traceability Gets Precise: The State of the Art

In recent years, the food industry has been under increasing pressure to trace products from farm to table. When COVID came onto the scene, the need for food traceability only intensified, as consumers wanted assurance from retailers and their supply chain partners that they could rely on the safety of their food.

Food traceability, however, is only as good as the degree to which it is executed up and down the supply chain. In order to improve supply chain management, facilitate feedback for food quality and safety, and differentiate your food product from your competitors’, you need to get precise in your traceability efforts.

Precision food traceability

Precision food traceability refers to the in-depth tracing of supply chain data and critical tracking events (CTEs) backward (to the source of the product) and forward (everywhere a food product has been used) to facilitate the quick and effective review of every action taken related to a product at each stage. With the ability to pinpoint a particular food product’s movement and characteristics, precision traceability not only offers detailed information about a product’s freshness, nutritional values, and logistics, it also supports proactive, informed decision-making should a food safety event occur.

Serialization is an essential tool in a precision food traceability system. The process of creating a unique code for each product, serialization delivers granular data about the food product to provide significantly more end-to-end visibility. With the ability to track the product at every stage, item-level traceability makes it easy to capture key data elements (KDEs), which could be used to trigger an investigation and reduce traceback time in the event of a food safety issue.

For example, let’s say you want to track a harvest operator’s location beyond the primary farmer and farm. Serialization gives you access to data down to the person who picked a vegetable, and from which row, ranch, or plot. For meat products, you can quickly trace back to not just the exact animal, but also to its pen location, feed, and even medicines.

With the ability to track outcomes (e.g., quality inspections and safety test results) and associate them to the product beyond the original facility, you can look back at any event in a product’s lifecycle even after it’s been shipped from the original facility. Precision food traceability makes it possible to track customer feedback and connect it to supply chain data points to deliver a complete picture of the product’s safety and performance. You can also evaluate how you’re doing on a sustainability front by tracking post-consumer activity, such as recycling and waste.

Specific uses for precision food traceability

On its journey from farm to table, a food product may be exposed to disease-causing organisms and food safety hazards. As the volume of international trade expands, so does the potential for transmission of pathogens or chemical contamination.

We all know problems can arise anywhere in the supply chain. Containing ingredients — perhaps from all over the world — and processed in different facilities and handled by wholesalers, retailers, and transportation companies, a food item is handled by many actors before ending up on the consumer’s plate. A precision food traceability system is paramount to ensuring food safety and minimizing the impact should an event arise.

Precision food traceability makes it easy to investigate food safety issues, identify the source of contamination, assess the scope of impact, and resolve the problem quickly. With the ability to trace back to the health of the animal, feed production, rearing, transportation, and more, you can quickly identify the source of infection or prohibited additives and take preventive and control measures to avoid the introduction of the contaminant.

Beyond safety, precision traceability also supports profitability. With detailed food traceability data, you can intelligently evaluate your operations, optimize efficiencies, analyze yield, and even apply consumer feedback to measure return on production investment. Precision traceability can also reduce food waste by tracking and recording data through every stage of the supply chain.

Final thoughts

Maintaining food safety is critical to your overall success and, more important, consumer health. The better and more precise your tracing system, the better equipped you will be to isolate the source of an issue and address quality control problems, quickly and efficiently. By minimizing the production and distribution of substandard and perhaps even illegal products, you reduce the risk of recalls, negative publicity, and liability, and have a “firewall” to protect your brand in the process.

Keeping tabs on every event related to your food supply can seem daunting but rfxcel can help. Offering the most complete and flexible raw materials and finished goods traceability solution in the food and beverage industry, we can help optimize your supply chain operations, meet compliance requirements, track products, and increase business value.

What Does It Mean to Be a CRPT Partner in Russia’s Supply Chain?

The Center for Research in Perspective Technologies (CRPT) operates Russia’s National Track and Trace Digital System. Known as Chestny ZNAK, the supply chain system was established by Federal Law No. 425-FZ, signed on December 29, 2017. rfxcel has been prepared for these regulations since 2018, and is now an established CRPT partner.

Let’s take a look at what it means to be a CRPT partner, including the benefits it brings to our customers.

What is the CRPT?

The CRPT is a public-private partnership akin to the European Medicines Verification Organization. Its many responsibilities include generating the serial numbers and verification codes (i.e., crypto codes) required by Chestny ZNAK.

Business giant USM is the CRPT’s principal partner, with a 51 percent stake. USM was founded in 2012 and has interests in many of Russia’s key sectors, including metals/mining, telecom, technology, and internet. According to USM, Chestny ZNAK is the country’s first public-private partnership in the IT sector and the first of its kind at the federal level. Private investments totaling more than 200 billion rubles ($2.5 billion) are expected over the next 15 years.

rfxcel as CRPT partner

Last year, rfxcel earned official CRPT partner status in 10 of the 11 industries for which the organization has chosen partners: medications, footwear, tires, light industry, perfumes, dairy, bottled drinking water, bicycles, wheelchairs, and tobacco. Furthermore, we are the only official CRPT partner for several of these industries.

To be named a CRPT partner, a solutions provider must prove it can work with Chestny ZNAK, comply with its strict serialization requirements, and support companies that do business in Russia.

For example, to be named an official integration, software, and tested solution partner for medications, members of our Moscow team met with the CRPT to demonstrate the rfxcel Traceability System, answer technical questions, and share examples of compliance reports. After an internal evaluation, the CRPT notified rfxcel that it had validated its solution and designated the company as an official partner on its website.

What does being a CRPT partner mean for our customers?

The benefits we bring as a CRPT partner are pretty straightforward. First and foremost, we have proven that our signature rfxcel Traceability System integrates seamlessly with Chestny ZNAK and meets regulatory requirements for key industries.

Russian law calls for serialization, aggregation, unit- and batch-level traceability, crypto codes, and electronic reporting and records management. Our rfxcel Serialization Processing and Compliance Management solutions ensure you’ll comply with these mandated labeling and reporting requirements. Plus, our solutions have a Russian-language user interface that makes integration and start-up much quicker.

The other benefit of being a CRPT partner is that we’re trusted. The CRPT knows our solutions, knows our team in Moscow, and knows that we take compliance very seriously. They know our customers include major pharmaceutical and consumer goods brands. They know we’re committed to making the transformation of Russia’s supply chain smooth and effective, and support the mission “to guarantee the authenticity and declared quality of goods being purchased by customers.”

So, when you work with rfxcel in Russia, you’re working with a CRPT partner that is equipped to deliver quick integration and compliance today, tomorrow — always.

Sneak peek: another recent rfxcel accomplishment in Russia

We’ll share more details about this soon, but earlier this month we received accreditation as an IT company from Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media. The Ministry develops and implements national policy and legal regulations for a range of industries, from telecommunications to Internet governance.

That’s all we’ll say for now. The official IT company accreditation is another reason why we continue to be the leader in Chestny ZNAK integration, operability, and compliance.

Final thoughts

We are proud of being an official CRPT partner. It’s proof that our software ensures companies in any industry will remain compliant while they do business in Russia.

Contact us today for more information about how we can help you succeed with Chestny ZNAK. And be sure to download our white paper about Russian compliance. Fully updated for 2021, including information about new pilots for beer and beer-based drinks and biologically active food additives , it’s an easy-to-understand guide to Russia’s strict supply chain regulations for every industry.