What is World Food Safety Day?


It’s vital that private and public sectors work together on issues concerning our food safety. Today, as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) join forces to mark World Food Safety Day, we are reminded of the commitment that ‘we’ must make to address and solve the problem.  The awareness day is celebrated every 7 June to highlight foodborne related risks and understand ways to detect, manage and prevent food incidents and food contamination. It is estimated that 1 in 10¹ people are ill each year from contaminated food.


Essential preparedness is the way forward


This year’s theme focuses on understanding how to ‘prepare for the unexpected’, which includes having systems and plans in place, better data sharing, more collaboration, rapid and emergency responses for safety product recalls and withdrawals from traceable channels. Although the cause of food incidents can occur at any stage of the production process, we take a look at measures within the packaging hall.


Controlling the ‘unexpected’ with packaging automation


The AutoCoding System is a workflow software solution for packaging verification and date code control. The AutoCoding System focuses on the automation of manual processes, reducing manual effort, the level of multiple entry, and supporting the uninterrupted flow of information throughout the packaging line.  While the main premise of the AutoCoding system is to help avoid product recalls and rework caused by incorrect packaging and labelling, there are additional benefits of the system that can be used to help detect, manage and prevent food related incidents.




Machine integration – Reducing product variances   

The AutoCoding system can be connected to multiple devices on the packaging line. All line events and device readings are digitally recorded to support traceability, and controlled cycle stops are built in to prevent out-of-tolerance conditions.  Connected modules such as Inspection Reporting provide further levels of detail on product variation.

Date code and barcode – Food and supply chain accuracy

Errors can occur on the packaging line resulting in the wrong date code being applied. Consumers may be at risk of illness due to incorrect ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date codes being used. The AutoCoding system fully automates date code printing, eliminating the possibility of an incorrect date code and ensuring date code accuracy on the packaging line.

Contaminated food products that have reached the consumer market will be the subject of an investigation and will be tested by a laboratory. Standard procedures ensure that packaging of the same or similar product is traced to understand the origin and source of the product. It’s essential that each packaged food item has the means to be traced through its unique data, (usually involving packaging barcodes and other production and materials specific data) from the packing line.  This enables the product’s distribution channels and other affected geographical areas to be identified. It’s a service that AutoCoding has been providing for the past 19 years, ensuring that barcodes are both readable and associated with the correct packaging and product information.

Recipe control  –  Ensuring the correct version is being used  

One of the key benefits of software such as AutoCoding is that it allows the operator to check that they are working to the correct and latest packaging artwork version. This can be particularly useful in building safety control, especially when dealing with novel or allergenic ingredients. There is visibility and accountability of who released the recipe and an understanding of whether changes were made, when, by whom and for what reason. There is a full history of all packaging artwork changes and new versions must follow appropriate procedures for release. This helps with auditable and traceability reporting in the event of subsequent supply chain problems.




Data – The rising commodity in the food and beverage industry

Governments are taking the issue of foodborne illnesses seriously.  The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in the process of introducing a new traceability rule that food manufacturers, processors, holders, packers and producers must comply with. All organisations on the food traceability list must be in compliance by 20 January 2026². In the event of an investigation, it’s mandatory for organisations to produce records containing key data elements within 24 hours and retain them for two years if requested.

A similar scheme has been operating in Australia for a number of years and is managed by the Food Standards Agency and a number of government agencies in Australia and New Zealand. In the UK, food traceability is defined by a set of principles, requirements and guidance to support best practice. Traceability is covered by the General Food Law, which sets out the relevant measures to be implemented within the food industry.

Unique coding – Lot codes to support fast investigations

One of the key data elements that is being mandated is the ability to provide traceable lot codes. Governments like the FDA don’t currently specify what these lot codes look like, so it’s up to the retailer or manufacturer to decide. Again, the AutoCoding system can support the allocation of unique coding where lot codes can be allocated according to organisational requirements. The management aspect is to know how to combine the tracing elements and locate suppliers more quickly. The use of unique coding helps with this. 

AutoCoding  | Paperless Quality – Reporting to support the era of traceability

Data records need to span the entire food supply chain, so if initial packaging is not currently covered and digitally captured, it is perhaps poignant to say that the AutoCoding system, although focused on control, has the ability to capture data.

It’s able to do this in real time because it constantly connects and records all line events from the equipment and machinery on the packaging line. This captured data can be aggregated and sorted to report on items such as lot codes, quantities, product descriptions, product origin, product distribution locations and other references from connected Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). The data can be made available digitally and exported as a sortable spreadsheet, a basic requirement of the Food Traceability Final Rule. In addition, the AutoCoding system can be linked to ERP and WMS systems, capturing key information such as product ingredients from the master recipe and destinations from pallet records for further contextual job order information.




Paperless quality – Automation of quality control inspections

As a leading provider of control and automation solutions for the packaging line, we have developed a Paperless Quality module that automates quality control inspections. There are two main ways of collecting data through this module. Connected devices can automatically feed results into the AutoCoding database. The other quality input is determined by operator feedback. For example, asking the operator to confirm that they have washed their hands or cleaned the station and equipment before starting a job. By automating the prompts and ensuring that photographic evidence can be captured to support good hygiene practices, Paperless Quality can be a useful tool to understand how much preparation has been done before the packaging is distributed. The Paperless Quality module can also provide key information at relevant points in the packaging process to raise awareness and support staff retraining.

AutoCoding – Understanding who was responsible for your line  

The AutoCoding system can compare planned schedules with actual events on the production line. If an operator fell ill during a production run, the change of operator is recorded in the report. Understanding this helps to track and prevent further risk of contamination through the human interface.




Software solutions, such as AutoCoding, that can effectively integrate and communicate with other systems and technologies can help reduce food-related incidents. It offers traceability, quality control, quality assurance and real-time data benefits that can help meet government requirements to speed up food-related investigations and outbreaks from a packaging-focused perspective.



If you would like to learn more about our AutoCoding system and understand it through a demonstration, please submit a demo request form.


  1. WHO, FAO of the United Nations, 7 March 2024, ‘7 June 2024 World Food Safety Day Communication Tool Kit’,  wfsd2024-communication-toolkit.pdf (who.int)
  2. Food & Drug Administration, 17 April 2024, ‘FSMA Final Rule on Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods’ FSMA Final Rule on Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods | FDA
  3. Deakin CSCL Food Traceability Lab, Antony Boll, April 2021, ‘Australian Guide to Implementing Food Traceability, AGIFT V1.0 April 2021 Full Resolution (deakin.edu.au)
  4. Food Standards Agency, ‘General Food Law’, General food law | Food Standards Agency