Ask the Expert: How to Innovate Your Approach to Outbreak Prevention and Response

Ask the expert, Food & beverage

Ask the Expert: Utilizing the Supply Chain as a Preventive Control Through Real-Time Monitoring

How will you improve your outbreak prevention and response?

The New Era of Smarter Food Safety was initially released in 2019 to challenge food manufacturers, distributors, and retail establishments to leverage state-of-the-art technologies and processes in new and innovative ways to solve industry challenges. Since the initial release, we’ve received a continuous feed of further direction outlined within the Blueprint and other updates, open comment periods, and meetings as the guidance continues to be fleshed out.

What’s truly exciting about the New Era of Smarter Food Safety is that regulatory agencies are taking a collaborative approach and engaging with various stakeholder groups. This includes public and private food companies, academics, and tech firms to develop the foundational standards upon which we will build food safety programs. In addition, food distributors, manufacturers, and retailers are being asked to think creatively and test innovative solutions to solve the industry’s challenges.

Laying the foundation for a strong food safety culture

As the FDA continues to release further direction related to the industry—from the largest food distributors to the smallest mom-and-pop food manufacturers—all are stepping up to achieve the goal of reducing foodborne illnesses. The New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint—released last year—identified four critical pillars, which are as follows:

  1. Tech-enabled Traceability
  2. New Tools and Approaches to Prevention and Outbreak Response
  3. New Business Models and Retail Modernization
  4. Food Safety Culture. 

Each of the pillars is important on its own, but together they create the foundation necessary to prevent food safety issues instead of only reacting to them. They are truly the building blocks to establishing a firm foundation for your food safety program. In addition, the program is being built on three core elements: that the program is FSMA-based, people-led, and tech-enabled.

What does this mean for food companies?

The New Era of Smarter Food Safety will build on the successes of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and is not intended to replace FSMA. People will play a critical role in developing, adopting, and implementing the New Era’s regulatory policies. Lastly, to meet consumer expectations, the future of food safety will rely on technology enablement as the key.

Taking a new approach

Organizations have found that the Blueprint’s second core element—New Tools and Approaches to Prevention and Outbreak Response—provides food safety teams the ability to try many new and exciting projects to improve their programs. This core element is made up of six central themes:

  • Invigorate Root Cause Analysis
  • Strengthen Predictive Analytics Capabilities
  • Domestic Mutual Reliance
  • Inspection, Training, and Compliance Tools
  • Outbreak Response
  • Recall Modernization

When it comes to the theme of inspection, training, and compliance tools, organizations are actively testing new tools, such as Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, to automate previously manual and laborious tasks. We only have to look to our own homes and the connected devices within them, such as smart TVs, refrigerators, security systems, and the plethora of other equipment that we’ve happily adopted to make our lives easier. It’s no surprise that innovative retailers and food manufacturers are also leveraging connected technology to gain insights, reduce manual processes, and improve food safety and compliance programs.

Overcoming supply chain issues with the right technology

Many companies have found that current supply chain pressures have shined a light on challenges that have always plagued them and for which there are no workarounds. Unfortunately, those alternative processes are no longer available for many companies, and now they must find permanent solutions to these supply chain and food safety challenges. Food loss and waste—with about 40% caused by temperature abuse from improperly managed cold chains—leading to empty retail shelves are top concerns for the food industry.

In the past, organizations might have been able to absorb some of these food losses. But now, with the obstacles in sourcing ingredients or raw materials, shortages in labor to make the products, and fewer trucks to move food to retail locations, there is simply no room for food waste. Here is where technology will play a critical role in improving the future. Companies are looking to have true traceability and actionable visibility. It is critical to know exactly where products are at any time and that they are in the appropriate, expected condition.

Having a real-time supply chain temperature monitoring program for your end-to-end cold supply chain can transform your operations. This technology allows food distributors, suppliers, and retailers to take an active approach to supply chain management. For example, organizations using this technology can actively monitor quality conditions, such as temperature, to ensure that their highly sensitive products are being held within predefined conditional attributes and actively intervene if they go out of the expected ranges.

In addition to ensuring quality conditions are met, logistics and supply chain teams can leverage the insights gained through real-time visibility to remove bottlenecks, avoid outages and shortages, identify supply chain issues, and optimize processes. End-to-end supply chain visibility technology can minimize disruptions by letting food producers and third-party logistics providers know exactly where the goods are and in what condition. Through these actions, teams are changing how they consider their supply chain—from necessary operations to a competitive advantage.

Would you like to take the next step in preparing for the New Era of Smarter Food Safety by implementing proven technology to help solve your greatest cold supply chain challenges and improve traceability? Please reach out to Jeremy Schneider for additional ways of improving your current programs, processes, and procedures.

About Jeremy Schneider, Business Development Director, Food Safety and Quality Assurance

Jeremy has more than 15 years of experience in the food quality, safety, and regulatory sector. His experience spans managing food safety and quality systems within several fast-casual restaurant chains as well as food manufacturing. During his career, he has addressed some of the most challenging and critical risks faced today by major consumer food brands.

Got a question? Email Jeremy at Jeremy@controlant.com.

Learn more or try a pilot

Interested in learning more about real-time temperature monitoring or getting started with a pilot? Get in touch. We would be happy to help you solve your cold chain challenges.

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