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Development of a food traceability and safety system based on electronic data capture and management

The development of an integral system based on information and communication technologies, enabling automatic management of data throughout the entire supply chain and assuring the origin and safety of food products.

The agricultural sector has been less influenced by the crisis associated with entire national and international agri-food chains. However, the consumers and the administrations demand more quality and safety as well as safety standards in the food supply chain. In order to fulfil these demands, the use of basic tools for traceability and food safety must be adopted by all operators along the food chain. Traceability is a real demand by consumers and public administrations (Regulation EC Nr 178/2002) and implies guaranteeing high protection to consumers along the whole food chain, from the primary production to the final consumer. The management of quality and food safety is one of Europe's key topics. It is necessary for producers to demonstrate that the quality and traceability-related information is assured throughout the whole food chain. These considerations are of special importance mainly in primary production and in SME processing companies, given that currently, traceability and quality management systems are less evident and there is a lack of capacity for demonstrating the traceability and safety of the products. The international supply chains of fruits and vegetables are characterised by the diversity of agents: producers, post-harvest companies, logistics, exporters, trade wholesalers, etc. Therefore, there are a great number of standards and regulations that make traceability and quality data management difficult and that increase management costs for food companies. This effective data management cost is more crucial in small and medium-sized companies. Furthermore, the great number of vegetable products and their different transformation processes, transport and commercialisation, makes the traceability different for each product and for each type of process. The project meets the need of the sector to maintain and enlarge markets, offering quality and safe products to consumers, in addition to technological improvements in productive systems, with a focus on SME companies. The system will be a technological tool for the management of complex food supply chains. The tool will be able to locate a problem at any point along the production chain, reducing product withdrawal and reducing, therefore, the costs and the loss of consumer confidence. The objective of the project is the development of an integral system based on information and communication technologies, enabling automatic management of the data and information throughout the entire production, transformation and commercialisation of vegetables products, assuring the origin and safety of the food, as well as the integral traceability of the product. The system will be modular and generic, so it could be applied to most products and production systems, with a special focus on SMEs. The project aims to be a reference for traceability systems for small producers and vegetable product processing companies, using the 'from the farm to the fork' approach, thus being a support tool for making decisions in real time. The objective of the project is not only limited to traceability-related data. The system will also integrate aspects of the products and the process information related to quality and food safety, for example the data related to HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) systems. The specific objectives of the project are as follows: - To support producers in managing the supply chain with advanced systems for processing the information, allowing for real time decisions and rapid responses to any event along the supply chain. - To provide the food chain operators, in particular small and medium-sized companies, with a low cost solution to improve process controls and management of documentation and traceability. A basic requirement will be a low installation and operation cost. - To avoid fraud and sanitary problems, by means of a system that provides information on time for making decisions, providing rapid alerts, and carrying out product withdrawals. - To provide consumers and other stakeholders along the food supply chain with quality-related information, demonstrating the safety and quality of the products. Keywords: traceability, food safety, agriculture.
Acronym: 
AGRITOOL
Project ID: 
3 514
Start date: 
07-07-2004
Project Duration: 
42months
Project costs: 
870 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Tracability of food
Market Area: 
General food products

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.