New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint: A brief overview

New era, Food & beverage

After much anticipation, the Food and Drug Administration, headed up by Frank Yiannis and Dr. Stephen Hahn, released the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint on July 13, 2020. The FDA took over a year of public meetings, submitted comments, and received stakeholder feedback before developing the parameters of what the New Era of Smarter Food Safety will look like over the coming decade and beyond.

The Blueprint provides an outline of how the regulatory agencies are currently thinking about technology investment, adoption, and the steps needed to get there. Historically, the food industry has been slow at technology adoption for many reasons, including the inability to get significant stakeholder buy-in, the cost of implementation, and the failure for technology to live up to prescribed outcomes. Recognizing these challenges, risks, and the current state of technology, now is the time to implement innovative programs that will prepare food producers, manufacturers, and retail establishments for the future.  

As previously outlined, the New Era of Smarter Food Safety will be built on three pillars:

  1. People-Led
  2. FSMA-Based
  3. Technology-Enabled

And that there are four core elements as a focus:

  1. Technology-Enabled Traceability
  2. Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention and Outbreak Response
  3. New Business Models and Retail Modernization
  4. Food Safety Culture

These topics come as no surprise for companies in the food industry as they are either fundamental within the food safety conversation over the last several years or are industry disruptors that require new and innovative approaches to ensure food safety. A significant point that cannot be overstated is that the plan has built inside it a healthy dose of ambition, and at this point, and has limited detail on requirements or expectations. Although this may be considered a criticism by some, the Blueprint is more of a starting point for organizations to evaluate rather than a prescriptive series of guidelines, as one generally expects from a regulatory document. When appraised within this context, the ability to research and pilot next-generation technologies is seemingly endless.

It’s critical to understand that the Blueprint is intended for everybody within the food industry. From the largest restaurant chain to the smallest mom-and-pop food manufacturer, all stakeholders—including end-users, consumer groups, manufacturers, distributors, purchasing agents, technology companies, and others— will have the ability to impact on the final program over the next two years.

A challenge experienced by previous food safety technologies is the siloed nature of the information and the inability to integrate data into existing programs for enterprise-wide use and analysis. Quality teams must consider from the onset not only what they need or require a technology solution to be able to do, but also where the information will live and the needs of other departments so that it brings value beyond a single departmental team.

Support your initiatives with technology

When evaluating a technology provider, it is essential to understand its capabilities to meet your specific requirements and can continue to support your organization as regulations evolve. Considering the Blueprint’s core elements, Controlant plays a critical role in helping food manufacturers, shippers, distributors, and retail establishments align with the Blueprint by providing previously unavailable insights into their cold supply chains. Controlant’s three-fold program provides truly real-time monitoring via Internet-of-things (IoT) data loggers, an intuitive and easy to use cloud-based platform, and 24/7 Monitor and Response Services (MARS) offering. This technology allows companies to move from a position of unknown risk to taking a Preventative Controls (PCs) based approach and have greater insight into the supply chain while promoting food safety.

Blueprint principles in action

One of Controlant’s clients, maxiaNET, is staying ahead of Blueprint’s technology-enabled requirement. maxiaNET decided that it was time to evaluate a technology partner before the Blueprint was even finalized. Having a real-time visibility solution allowed the distribution company to gain insights within its supply chain, and subsequently, make critical changes based on the results of the data. Using Controlant’s system, maxiaNET was able to see when products were falling outside the pre-defined permissible temperatures. The real-time alerts from the Controlant solution granted maxiaNET enough time to contact its supply chain partners before the products’ quality would have been compromised. This tech-enabled approach has saved the company time and resources throughout the partnership.

Has this article challenged the way you were thinking about the New Era of Smarter Food Safety or provided insights you hadn’t previously considered? If so, continue to watch for articles by bookmarking our New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint resource page.

Controlant is dedicated to lessening supply chain disruptions while providing visibility during this unprecedented time. Contact us to learn more.