New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint: Setting the groundwork for successful technology adoption

New era, Food & beverage

As we enter the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, food manufacturers, distributors, and restaurant chains are challenged to reconsider the way that they manage food safety by using tech-enabled approaches within their organization. Perhaps you’ve just begun to dive into the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Blueprint and how to implement these changes within your organization. Or, like many companies, have already started the process of determining what changes you will need to implement. Regardless of where you are on the journey, you will want to begin to lay the groundwork for new technology adoption within your organization as part of the FDA’s recommendations. Companies taking a proactive approach to food safety will be ready for the adoption of new and innovative solutions that drive success.

Draft the team

A good place to start is by selecting a special projects team to help develop, manage, and champion a tech-enabled food safety plan. Invite stakeholders from multiple departments to participate and provide direct input. Be diligent in spending time early in the process with cross-functional teams to define each milestone and necessary staff to transition your current plan to a technology-focused food safety strategy. If a variety of stakeholders clearly identify their needs in the beginning, everyone will be viewing the holistic system through their unique perspective and can ensure it the final plan aligns with what everyone requires and expects.

Develop the plan

Once you have assembled the team, begin by outlining where the organization currently is and defining what an ideal result would look like after implementing strategic changes. Ask the project team some questions and consider them within the context of the three core pillars of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety:

  1. People-led
  2. FSMA-based
  3. Tech-enabled

Do you have the right people or resources in place to effectively execute the plan? Is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) the foundation of your food safety strategy? Could the implementation of technology, like a real-time supply chain monitoring solution, increase your efficiency at critical steps?

Then go into more specific questions. How are you managing cooler and equipment temperature logs, and how could those methods be improved? Would automating processes save time to focus on other tasks? Are your shipping and receiving procedures automated or manual? Take time after answering those questions to draft something new or update your existing food safety plan. Set tight but achievable timelines to each step that show stakeholders the project team is meeting objectives and deliverables on time.

Test new technologies

One of the most crucial areas noted by the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint is the recommendation for tech-enabled traceability. However, every organization will have unique food safety technology needs. While there are many options available for exploration, it is essential to prioritize the most critical risks and challenges first. Evaluate your company’s current risk mitigation process and ask the following questions:

  • Are you readily able to gather all needed information, or are you relegated to the filing cabinet to pull purchase orders, production records, and other documentation?
  • How effective are your facilities’ environmental and temperature control programs?
  • Could the investment in next-generation technology provide increased shelf life and reduced customer complaints?

Use your answers to build a tech-enabled food safety plan and begin to evaluate technologies that meet these requirements. A great approach to this is through an investigation process that grades each technology against pre-determined standards or necessary results. Following this tactic, teams can objectively decide which system will work best based on the predefined parameters. Each program and investment must be thoroughly validated and tested to ensure that it meets internal needs and all regulatory requirements.

Prepare to implement

A critical but often overlooked process step is defining requirements—such as technical, clerical, financial, or other resources—to execute and implement the plan at enterprise-scale. Perhaps leading implementation with your existing IT and engineering departments is within your company’s abilities and wheelhouse. Or maybe, you will need additional internal or external resources to execute the plan effectively. Take the time to appropriately calculate the dedicated financial and employee resources expected to accomplish the final project at the beginning to avert challenges and roadblocks along the way.

As you lay the groundwork for technology adoption, delve into critical reasons for post-implementation failure—and hopefully avoid potential pitfalls. One of the primary reasons so many technologies fail after implementation has to do with increased workload. It should be the goal of newly implemented technology to reduce staff assignments and increase overall efficiency. Unfortunately, what often happens is that new tasks are stacked on top of already hectic workloads, causing additional stress and reduced adoption. Combat technology fatigue by following a workload “tear-down, build-up” approach, where all day-to-day tasks are reviewed, removed, or modified while introducing the new technology. Following this approach allows the solution to be fully integrated into employees’ work, instead of just adding “one more thing” they must do.

Seeing the plan in action

Controlant’s partner, maxiaNET, decided to implement a new food safety and quality plan when onboarding their latest brand, Stone Brewing. The Southern California brewery needed to maintain beer freshness by keeping it cooled to the correct temperature as it was shipped over 1,800 miles through the Mexican desert. To achieve Stone Brewing’s goal, maxiaNET sought out a technology partner that could assist meeting this critical quality standard. Partnering with Controlant assured that the kegs of beer were kept at the appropriate temperature range, ensuring quality and freshness throughout transport to retail locations. Additionally, maxiaNET was able to use the data from the shipments to improve its corporate safety and quality plan through proactively identifying problems in the distribution channel. maxiaNET identified that it should change shippers and retrain retail locations on proper storage procedures. Without the real-time insights from Controlant, maxiaNET and its customer would have been in the dark, letting the product’s quality suffer.

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.