Patricia Jurewicz, director of the Responsible Sourcing Network – an NGO that addresses human rights abuses in harvesting and mining – participated in a panel discussion about tracing commodities in the supply chain at the 2013 Ethical Sourcing Forum. She came away impressed with the hard work many companies are doing to incorporate transparency and accountability into their supply chains. McDonald’s, for example, is coordinating all of its beef suppliers to help ensure the quality of its hamburgers.

But, says Jurewicz, many companies have so many suppliers that it’s impossible to trace all of their raw materials. In these cases, it works best to set up choke points in the system, such as conflict-free smelters. If these factories can be transparent and certified, brands don’t need to worry about tracing products back to their source,