Consumers expect their food to be safe and they expect it to be produced to exacting standards, says Paul van Geldorp, Head of Unit of Bilateral International Relations at the European Commission's Health and Consumers Directorate General.

The consumer of today not only expects safety, quality and taste but also wants animals reared to ethical values, meaning not only high welfare standards, but also a respect for the environment.

The traceability systems that have been put in place in several countries are largely management tools including inspection and certification and a means to manage food safety incidents and disease control programs. They also help to manage livestock support programmes, quality assurance programs and the implementation of World Trade Organization sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreements. Effective traceability systems also help to prevent food fraud.

Geldorp adds that while a lot of countries now look to traceability systems as a means of restricting trade, others such as Chile and Namibia have adopted traceability as a quality measure. The critical issue is whether traceability is seen as a food safety requirement, so that premises from exporters have to be approved, and requirements such as beef labelling and residue testing and minimum levels have to be maintained.

See Paul van Geldorp's full story on traceability and quality.