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Safety First – Focus on Traceability

16 February 2013

Food safety scandals, recalls of food stuffs, the outbreak of an epizootic disease – are topics that are frequently in the media spotlight and have a high priority in the public conscience.

Questions of food safety, quality assurance and traceability play an ever more important role in the meat industry.

Traceability is more than just an important tool for risk management. It also plays a part in consumer protection and supply chain improvement including the equipment used for this.

All events that are associated with the production of fresh and cooked meat products must be recorded in detail. This is the only way to guarantee seamless traceability.

This process begins with the animals’ birth and continues through their rearing and fattening, slaughter and processing and all stages of transport and storage to the presentation of the products in the shelves and refrigerated display cases.

It requires modern information technology, intelligent sensors and vision systems, chemical quick tests, continuous recording of process data including software capable of the complete documentation of all processes.

At IFFA in Frankfurt am Main from 4 to 9 May, leading manufacturers are showing products and solutions of the future for every stage of the traceability process.

EDP and IT Solutions

On display are the most recent systems solutions for production planning and production and / or process control as well as innovative process control technology and process automation.

Manufacturers ensure the utmost flexibility and capability of their systems through the implementation of ever greater industry know-how.

Examples include order and recipe management for fully automatic production processes in the production of cooked meats, cooking and smoking technology.

There are also pan-industry systems for batch traceability (both forward and backward) according to EU directive 178/2002 in addition to innovative software solutions for logistics, distribution and inventory management.

Measure, Regulate, Control

The ‘Quality & Safety Tested’ mark is the focus for innovation in the product segment of ‘Measure, Regulate, and Control’.

This ranges from x-ray control systems and checkweighers, to metal detectors including data capture and quality control equipment, and NIR (near infrared) spectroscopy for quick analysis of the fat, protein and water content in meat so as to eliminate the time taken to prepare test samples.

At the moment the packaging of fresh and cooked meat products using MAP (modified atmosphere packaging) is very popular.

It requires above all that the packaging is impermeable to the protective gas.

Faulty seals can result in leakages and so to aroma and flavour loss or even to premature deterioration of the produce. Consequently, in the case of MAP gas measurement devices for quality control are essential.

Suppliers showcase equipment for random sample measurement in the laboratory in addition to systems for offline measurement and for in-line process control in production.

Tagging and Identifying

Animal breeders must mark cattle, pigs, sheep and goats with ear tags which are printed with details of the member country of the EU, federal state, administrative region, county, municipality and business from where the animal originates.

Before slaughter it is necessary to enter in addition the traceability code of the abattoir.

Ear tags (barcode tags) and animal passports are sufficient for living animals. However post slaughter these markings can no longer be used for identification.

In this case efficient labelling systems make it possible to clearly identify every cut of meat or complete batches.

The systems comprise printers and barcode scanners in addition to electronic identification using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification).

The latter in particular are becoming increasingly important due to their versatility in terms of process automation and process control.

It will be some time before all the possibilities of RFID technology are fully exploited, but the expectation is that it will offer advanced future solutions in the areas of stock management and intralogistics with respect to the identification and traceability of pallets, E2 crates or products packed in trays.

Food safety, quality assurance and traceability are the topics trending at the IFFA 2013, the no.1 for the meat industry. On an area of more than 100,000 square metres a total of around 950 exhibitors from 47 countries will be gathered, including all the main players, to showcase their innovations.

New product development is targeted to coincide with the IFFA, it being the first time new products are presented to an international trade audience.

In 2013 the IFFA will have a new site structure. For the first time it will occupy Hall 11. This is the location for the product areas of packaging, utilities, measurement and weighting equipment as well as suppliers from the processing / cutting segment. The manufacturers from the segment of slaughtering and dismembering are once again accommodated in Halls 9.0 and 9.1. A range of products relating to processing can again be found in Hall 8.0. In Hall 4.0 market-leading companies will present a global range of products from the segments of ingredients, spices, additives, intestines and packaging materials. Here visitors will also find all new products on the topic of ‘Sales – everything for butcher's shops’.

January 2013

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