- Transformation input (used to create another product or item);
- Transformation output (product creation or manipulation);
- Disposal; and
The ability to query and extract key data elements in a seamless manner is critical. The key data elements that should be digitally captured, stored, and electronically retrievable are:
- Item number or Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) and uniquely identifiable product description*;
- Quantity on hand;
- Physical location at which the product was last handled, whether at the packer, processor, or another location;
- Incoming lot number(s) of product received;
- Amount of product created, packed, shipped, consumed, or eliminated from lot association;
- Continuity of an incoming lot or record of lots included—for example, following comingling or repacking to create a new lot code;
- All physical locations to which cases were shipped;
- Lot number(s) shipped to each location;
- Date(s) and time(s) product was received and/or shipped to all locations;
- Date(s) and time(s) each lot was packed, processed, or harvested; and
- If applicable, all ingredients used in product, with lot numbers, facility at which they were manufactured, and date(s) and time(s) they were received.
There are many system applications that record the key data elements at all critical tracking events in use in the fresh produce industry today. Some of these applications are utilizing the blockchain data sharing protocol while others run on proprietary databases. These applications are designed to provide supply chain transparency while also providing traceability. The value of these visibility platforms is to gain a supply chain-wide view of the products from harvest through to point of sale to the consumer to identify when there are delays, unnecessary steps, or less-than-ideal conditions. It is reasonable to anticipate that transparency in time temperature controls for food safety, alluded to briefly below, would also be captured and visible in modern traceability systems.
Complete “mass balance” of each lot is an attainable goal of sound traceability systems. Ability to account for 100 percent of product received or created is a must. It is equally as imperative for lot number and manufacturing facility to appear on each case of product, and lot number(s), quantity, and shipping location to appear on invoices and bills of lading as well.