Food businesses should be prepared to collect important food safety and quality documents from existing or potential suppliers, such as a Letter of Guarantee and product specification. Another important document to collect from suppliers is a Lot Code Explanation sheet, which is a document that explains how a company identifies their finished products. At a minimum, it should include an example of a finished product lot code and should break down what each section of the lot code means. Having an explanation of a supplier’s lot coding not only strengthens a site’s traceability system, but it also helps facilities to utilize good stock rotation practices by using materials that were produced first prior to subsequently produced materials.
It is important for companies to collect traceability information from all existing or potential suppliers that provide a material that impacts finished product safety. Materials that are often overlooked include processing aids, such as antimicrobials, lubricants, or anti-caking agents, and inputs such as compressed gases. These materials are just as important to the quality and safety of finished products as ingredients, raw materials, and packaging materials, so it’s important to include them in your traceability system.
In our next video in the Traceability series, we discuss tips for ensuring traceability at the receiving step as well as proper stock rotation practices.