A Chain of Custody Program Can Help Protect Your Brand, Market Share and Profits

The food supply chain has become increasingly complicated and much longer, with supply chains for some products consisting of more than one hundred links. In the fresh produce industry in particular, products are transported thousands of miles to meet consumer needs. Unfortunately, the method for tracking supply chain events has historically been pen and paper, resulting in data that is often recorded improperly or simply does not follow the product. An effective solution to this dearth of information is a chain of custody which identifies the origin of a product, everyone who has touched a product, every place the product has been, and all associated records, captured in a way that allows for easy retrieval.

A chain of custody typically records information about any product that is extremely valuable, perishable, or, if contaminated, would result in serious consequences. Examples are food, pharmaceuticals, blood, automotive parts, vehicles, or precious minerals. A chain of custody systematically identifies a unit of production, tracks its location, and describes any treatments or transformations at all stages of production, processing, and distribution. The trail of custodians and owners is documented, and transactions are validated at each level of the supply chain. This type of validation is helpful, for example, in segregating organic from conventionally grown produce. Consumer confidence in organic certification is extremely important, so the ability to identify every point along the supply chain is crucial. The ability to distinguish between non-certified and certified seafood (and the ability to trace certified seafood back to certified sources) is also made possible with documenting custodians and validating transactions.

Utilizing a chain of custody program helps stakeholders to identify the source of and develop solutions to issues affecting product delivery and quality. When it is determined that a widespread outbreak is the result of a foodborne contamination, food recalls are typically in order. However, they are very costly because of the difficulty in isolating a contaminant’s origin. For the restaurant industry, the financial burden is nearly $90 billion annually. One restaurant may spend upwards of $2M in a single recall. According to Angela Fields, a subject matter expert with the FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network, increased traceability offers more thorough root cause investigation, which is necessary to avoid blanket recalls. A chain of custody helps to expedite targeted product recalls, enabling a faster response, limiting the amount of product that must be destroyed, and preventing further illness.

Chain of custody systems create more supply chain accountability, encouraging individuals to follow proper procedures for product handling, and to think twice before stealing or committing fraud. Improved transparency resulting from chain of custody also helps to protect and monitor the integrity of insurance claims. By enabling participants at every level to input information, chain of custody systems provides stakeholders the data they need - in real time.

The goal of a chain of custody system is end-to-end traceability, which follows a product through every stage of production, processing, and distribution. For perishable products like food and pharmaceuticals, traceability also provides benefits such as better inventory management, longer shelf life and better order management. The ability to trace a shipment as it moves through the supply chain, from one custodian to the next, provides the visibility stakeholders need to identify problems that could affect consumer confidence. With the uncertainty of today’s supply chain, having an effective chain of custody system is not only a clever idea, but a requirement for effective handling of perishable commodities.

The ability to chronologically and electronically trace and document in-transit cargo is important not only because of the provision of custodial information, but also because it offers location, temperature, and other important data, helping stakeholders to estimate product condition and arrival times. DeltaTrak’s chain of custody solution provides the system, business intelligence, and real-time data to simplify regulatory traceability requirements and assure product quality throughout the supply chain. For more information, contact DeltaTrak Sales at 1-800-962-6776, option 1, or email

Author: Temesa Lewis

Temesa Lewis is a Marketing Communications Writer with DeltaTrak, Inc. Her professional background includes roles in sales/account management, human resources and training.

Visit Temesa Lewis's profile


  • DeltaTrak’s Real Time Loggers have been a game changer for our trucking program. Having the ability to monitor temperature while trucks are in transit has given us peace of mind knowing the quality of our product has not been compromised. The alert notifications, light sensors, and GPS tracking are just some of the great features that have allowed us to make pro active decisions that have strengthened the integrity of our product. The FlashTrak Cloud Service is easy to use and is a great tool to compare and analyze data. The FlashTrak App is super convenient as well. We have used other reliable DeltaTrak products for many years and we were excited to see these added to their lineup!

    Michelle Oetjens
    Senior Global Logistics Analyst-BFP
    Ball Horticultural Company

  • When it comes to making sense of data (in the supply chain) we have found a partner in DeltaTrak. The fact that I could recharge the real-time logger and the dual batteries made a lot of sense to me. It was user friendly and easy to use. With the uncertainty and complexity of today's supply chain, having an effective chain of custody system is not only a clever idea, but a requirement for effective handling of perishable goods.

    Henry Helms
    CH Logistics, Cape Town, South Africa

  • It is my pleasure to recommend DeltaTrak to your company. During these times of crisis, we were fortunate to work with DeltaTrak to source top of the line Non-Contact forehead thermometers and PPE supplies at a real market price.

    As a healthcare organization, we are a common target for price gouging and abusive practices from several vendors. With DeltaTrak, we found a partner that understands our needs and who always provide world class customer service.

    Luis Landgrave
    Procurement Manager
    Plum Healthcare Group LLC

  • Dear Fred, I would like express my appreciation for the good business relationship we have had during 2018. The excellent work of Mr. Jorge Hurtado has given me the confidence to continue maintaining our commercial relationship with the DeltaTrak brand.

    Mr. Jorge Hurtado's customer service efforts are outstanding, especially in finding solutions to the challenges that may arise in the commercial process. In my opinion Mr. Hurtado's professionalism is a model for any company, especially when the client is thousands of kilometers away from Modesto, CA. I look forward to strengthening our successful relationship into 2019.

    Valentin Bobadilla
    Valentin Bobadilla Centurion E.I.R.L.

  • We received the blankets yesterday and the quality was/is outstanding. Thank you for getting us a superior product, both our flowers and our customers thank you. :)

    Clint C.
    Aladdin's Floral

  • We have provided our trucks with your recorders for Walmart/Sam's and have not had any issues at all. Great recorders, small in size and easy to activate and place in the truck.

    Diego Calderon
    Delano Farms Company

  • Thank you Juan Solorzano for paying us a business call 4 years ago. The DeltaTrak brand is the majority of our Temp Recorder business. ALL our Walmart/Sam's orders carry the DeltaTrak Temp recorders for the past 4 years without a single problem with any Walmart DC. When you have a load of 18 different orders on a single truck and temp recorders on each order, WOW what a savings your DeltaTrak brand has save us. Yes, Walmart has accepted the DeltaTrak Model with no problems.

    Tony Contreras
    The Giumarra Companies, Reedley Cold Storage

  • This upcoming fall will mark our 4th full season using DeltaTrak recorders. They are competitively priced and the customer service is always exceptional. We have never had a customer issue with one of their units and we don’t expect to. We use a wide range of DeltaTrak products and we have been more than happy with every one of them.

    Bruce Densten
    Little Bear Produce