First results of National Traceability project now available

Meats on display in grocery store
Consumers are wanting more information about foods they buy

Stage one of the National Traceability project, investigating the development of a national approach to Australia’s agricultural traceability systems, has now been completed.

An agreement in 2017 between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Agriculture Ministers led to the formation of a National Traceability Working Group (NTWG) with representatives from each jurisdiction supported by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR).

The NTWG was tasked to:

  • review the current regulatory approach to agricultural traceability
  • explore the likely future requirements including provenance and authenticity of Australian production and products
  • identify improvements to our systems to meet anticipated future requirements from trading partners and markets.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development representative on the NTWG was Director Livestock Biosecurity Peter Gray.

Mr Gray said the project report found our current traceability systems meet our domestic needs and those of our trading partners.

Differences were found in the sophistication of various industry systems, mostly due to the traditional reasons for traceability. For example, the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for cattle is well established and has received significant resources from government and the cattle industry during implementation over many years.

Trading partners and consumers increasingly want to know more about the products they import and buy. This includes information about food safety, animal and plant pest and disease status and, more recently, information regarding provenance, authenticity and social matters such as sustainability and animal welfare.

International and domestic consumers also want claims relating to food to be supported by fast and efficient traceability systems.

Enhancing our traceability systems will ensure WA is prepared for any future changes in requirements, and provide exporters with a competitive advantage.

The second stage of the project is underway and involves the working group consulting with industry to develop a National Traceability Framework and action plan that will:

  • provide the flexibility to meet the future needs of industry, government, trading partners and consumers
  • consider existing arrangements and available technology to develop a framework and action plan that are as cost effective as possible
  • consider the level of traceability applicable to each category of agricultural products and the timing of any changes to traceability systems
  • be implemented in a way that minimises trade disruption and strengthens the confidence domestic consumers have in our food supply chains.

A summary report is available on the project page on the department’s website.

You can now provide feedback on the principles which will shape the National Traceability Framework. Submissions close 23 January 2019.

For more information, or to register your interest in this project, contact Peter Gray on +61 (0)8 9368 3342 or email the Traceability Project.