SLI-Paper 2004:3

Traceability in the food chain

Authors: Anna Isaksson 

The basis of EU food regulations is to protect public health, safety and the consumer as well as to ensure a free movement of goods. The legislation covers the entire food chain, from animal feed to consumer purchases.

In January 2005, new EU regulations concerning food traceability were adopted. The aim was to make it possible to trace products backwards to suppliers and forwards to consumers, thus enabling efficient withdrawals of unsafe food and feed, i.e. withdrawals should be rapid and possible to make at a low cost. 

The responsibility for damage caused by food products are carried by private companies who carry costs of withdrawals as well as costs of loss of reputation. Some companies have routines that are more far-reaching than the requirements of the new regulations. The new regulations are not as far-reaching as the regulations on ecologically produced or genetically modified goods, since the former do not require any information about production methods or origin.

The conclusion in this report is that the interests of society and of the private market coincide in the case of  traceability. Since internal company routines in many cases were more far-reaching than those stipulated by the new regulations, there is no reason to believe that the new regulations will increase firm costs or enhance consumer safety.


Anna Isaksson

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