Tracking food items at every step of the way while monitoring temperature insights is an important way for grocery retailers as well as their distribution and logistics partners to comply with food safety regulations.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, track and trace technology has enabled retailers and suppliers at every level of the food supply chain industry to reassure their customers of food safety. Companies who have implemented track and trace technology in the fresh produce industry are able to access and obtain critical produce information at every step of the farm to table journey, allowing them to prevent any contamination issues and save their food items from being discarded because of other unmonitored problems that occur along the way.
Even though greater attention is being given to food safety regulations by consumers recently the FDA had been deeply focused on food traceability before the onset of the pandemic. The New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative was put in place by the agency in order to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act in a more efficient manner. The FDA acknowledged that the employment of technologies allowed for “a more digital, traceable and safer system to help protect consumers from contaminated food”.
Some technologies that will assist in the implementation of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety will be the use of artificial intelligence, sensors, distributed ledgers, and blockchain based supply tracking. A spokesperson from the FDA said: “When it comes to food traceability, many in the food system still utilize a largely paper-based system of taking one step forward to identify where the food has gone and one step back to identify the source. The use of new and evolving digital technologies envisioned in the effort will play a pivotal role in tracing the origin of a contaminated food to its source in minutes, or even seconds, instead of days or weeks.”.
Scientists at the Institute of Food Technologists, which is based in Chicago, are of the opinion that grocery retailers and their supply partners are entirely focused on incorporating technologies to aid in their responses to any food safety related emergencies they may face on the supply chain level, particularly in the fresh produce space.
Their data found that while there was promise for the adoption of blockchain in order to digitize supply chains, data collection for traceability and standardization is what was imperative to enable proper traceability.
The pandemic has increased interest in different technologies, and more specifically in those which are centered toward transparency and traceability. For retailers and suppliers any technology that can assist in real time responses to any disruptions in their supply chain is being perceived as a valuable investment toward enhancing food safety.