Traceability, the key ingredient for future success

I read with great interest a column in “Industry Thoughts” segment of last issue of this magazine. It was discussing, why are we not able to export chicken? Why are we still waiting to grab this opportunity? Are we going to let someone else to grab this golden opportunity? These are the questions that needs to be taken seriously and come up with the right answers sooner than later. The same answers to be found for eggs, milk and aqua products as well.

India has proven that it can produce enough quantity of chicken meat and eggs with great efficiency, but the same cannot be said about the quality. International community demands food safety and traceability. We need to understand the demands of such potential importing countries and put in place the practices that meets or exceeds the expectations.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system is one such practice which will take us one step closer to demonstrate safety, traceability and confidence in the buyers of animal products of Indian origin. HACCP is being successfully used in some countries to keep mycotoxins in feed mills and farmsat bay. Such efforts are reflected in the production of milk which fulfil the international norms of aflatoxin M1 limits. Although meat and eggs don’t face such serious scrutiny as milk, the days are not too far away when there will be stringent regulations to monitor mycotoxin residues in meat and eggs. We need to remember that HACCP not only help us to export our products but also further increase economic returns through improved efficiency.

The key application of HACCP can also be found in the control of pathogens, pesticides and heavy metals in the feed and food chain. Bacteria such as Salmonella is a public health concern around the world. This pathogen can enter food chain through many routes  feed, water, rodents, faecal contamination etc. For such pathogen, control measures should be applied at all the steps of food production. Leaving any area unchecked can be a disaster not only on public health but also the economic situation of that country. HACCP has also been widely used to control Camphylobacter infection in humans.

HACCP provides scientific basis for one of the most commonly used quote, “Prevention is better than cure”. The process involves having necessary tools to identify the risk, understanding how the risk enters the food chain, assigning a critical limit to the risk, establishing procedures to monitor the risk regularly, implementing corrective measures, establishing verification / validation procedures, and the most important of all, keeping up to date records of the changes made to the production process.

The whole world is looking at India for many reasons; not only to understand how it is going to feed its ever increasing human population but also to understand how it can produce food that can satisfy the developed world. In either way, quality and traceability should be in the forefront of Indian animal industry going forward. Let us all make sure we are moving closer to such criteria rather than turning our backs.

Dr. Swamy Haladi, DVM., PhD

Devenish Nutrition