ISO project committee aims to simplify traceability

Thursday, 16 February, 2017

Traceability — known as chain of custody (CoC) — is the key to establishing authenticity and, by extension, reassuring consumers of the quality and safety of the products they buy. Knowledge and tracking of specific product characteristics (origin, sustainability traits and/or manufacturing process) is increasingly important and demanded by consumers.

A reliable CoC management system is therefore important for certification and quality assurance schemes.

Commercial CoC systems and programs abound, all with their own semantics, presentation and industry focus, and include CoCs for food safety, sustainable agriculture or compliance in manufacturing. But the sheer number of such systems adds unnecessary layers of administration, thereby increasing costs and pushing smaller companies out of international markets.

A new ISO project committee — ISO/PC 308, Chain of custody — has been established, making traceability simpler for all supply chain actors by using a uniform ISO language globally.

The chair of ISO/PC 308, Rob Busink, said: “The proposed generic chain-of-custody standard will define supply chain models and the respective traceability levels and specific requirements related to administration, conversion rates and physical handling activities, thus simplifying market access by using a uniform language and criteria throughout the supply chain.

“It is hoped that existing and new certification schemes will be able to refer to the ISO standard for the terminology regarding chain-of-custody requirements, thus simplifying the conformity assessment for those various product certifications and reducing unnecessary duplication or misunderstanding.”

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