Inderscience Publishers

The value of utilising stochastic mapping of food distribution networks for understanding risks and tracing contaminant pathways

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Difficulties in adequately characterising food supply chain topologies contribute major uncertainty to risk assessments of the food sector. The capability to trace contaminated foods forward (to consumers) and back (to providers) is needed for rapid recalls during food contamination events. The objective of this work is to develop an approach for risk mitigation that protects us from an attack on the food distribution system. This paper presents a general methodology for the stochastic mapping of fresh produce supply chains and an application to a single, relatively simple case - edible sprouts in one region. The case study demonstrates how mapping the network topology and modelling the potential relationships allows users to determine the likely contaminant pathways and sources of contamination. The stochastic network representation improves the ability to explicitly incorporate uncertainties and identify vulnerabilities.

Keywords: food contamination, food defence, stochastic mapping, food distribution networks, risk assessment, contaminant pathways, food supply chains, supply chain management, SCM, rapid recall, risk mitigation, edible sprouts, network topology, modelling, contamination sources, uncertainties, vulnerabilities

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