Food Traceability: A Generic Theoretical Framework

Food Traceability: A Generic Theoretical Framework

Traceability of food products is both a legal and market requirement. Numerous studies have been performed in food traceability but there is no common, clear understanding of its theoretical concepts which are scattered and disjointed across the literature. Existing studies are mainly concerned with practical implementation and the theoretical concepts derived from the practical experience rather than the opposite where the practical implementation stems from well-established theories. As a result, various definitions, classifications and inconsistent principles have been proposed which hamper clear understanding and further development of the field.

This study aims to coalesce the proposed and emergent fundamental concepts of food traceability in a generic theoretical framework. To this end, we have used an iterative approach to review and synthesise the papers in the field most relevant to our enquiry, consolidate proposed drivers and beneficiaries, highlight the main typologies, and as a result, propose a revised definition of food traceability with four associated principles.

According to our definition: “Food traceability is an ability to access specific information about a food product that has been captured and integrated with the product’s recorded identification throughout the supply chain.” Different information is recorded in a traceability system depending on the underlying drivers, for example, legislation, food safety, sustainability, or consumer satisfaction. In this paper traceability approaches are categorised by an iterative typology, as internal or external and the implementation of traceability systems is organised according to four consolidated principles: identification, data recording, data integration and accessibility. It is proposed that the collation of existing approaches into a cohesive theoretical framework will improve understanding and the effective implementation of food traceability systems.

Read the full article published in Food Control here.