According to Canadian Food Inspection Agency, traceability is the ability to follow an item or a group of items – be it animal, plant, food product or ingredient – from one point in the supply chain to another, either backwards or forwards.
A fully-functional traceability system is based on three pillars:
- Animal identification – Associating a unique animal identification number to an animal (e.g., applying an approved indicator to an animal);
- Premises identification – Assigning a unique identification number to a physical land location (i.e., legal land description or geo-referenced coordinates) by a provincial/territorial premises registry;
- Animal movement – Recording the change in location (i.e., from one unique premises to another unique premises) of a uniquely-identified animal at a specified time/date.
To track an animal and facilitate a fully-functional, national traceability system, every livestock premises must have a valid, premises identification (PID) number in order to report animal movement (e.g., move in, move out, sighted, imported, exported and temporary export events).
Traceability systems are important, effective tools that can be used for many things, including the protection of animal health, public health and food safety. They can help reduce response time, thereby limiting economic, environmental and social impacts of emergency situations such as disease outbreaks and environmental disasters such as floods, fires and pipeline bursts.