After years of status quo, in 2011 the United States implemented its first major food safety legislation in 70 years — the Food Safety Modernization Act. Nearly ten years later, we’re still working to implement it. But as quickly as regulators are trying to catch up, the more complicated our supply chains have become. For example, 15% of the US’s overall food supply is imported from over 200 other countries, according to the FDA. The complexity grows exponentially when we contemplate what this means for tracking food safety across a supply chain of this scope.
In terms of business value, the options of a large-scale distributed supply chain provides companies more flexibility — more options and less dependence on any one supplier or supply chain network. But in terms of compliance and safety management, this ever-expanding web of food sources presents more hurdles to jump and exponentially more work to do in order to keep track of where a myriad of supplied goods are coming from.
Earlier this year, the FDA heralded what they call a “New Era of Smarter Food Safety”. As technology becomes increasingly accessible, more and more companies are investigating how technology can be used to harness and control the growing complexity of the supply chain implications.
Defining Food Safety Transparency
What “supply chain transparency” means in practice depends entirely on the standard your company holds itself to — depending on culture and organizational mission.
For some, that still means manually recorded safety inspections slid into plastic binder sleeves. For many, it means the manual recording of testing and other data points in Excel spreadsheets on the desktop of a Quality Assurance Manager’s computer. For those on the forefront, it means automatically-scheduled test swabs and scans that are transformed into digitally-delivered data within an automated food safety platform.
Part of the “New Era…” will result in the very same data points, once operationally worthless in paper form, now enabling real-time decision making from a tablet in the palm of your hands.
Supporting Many Stakeholders
But how do you convince your team that implementing these cutting-edge digital solutions is justified and that the projects are worth pursuing?
Those who stand to benefit most directly are the teams tasked with ensuring quality and safety, taking the samples and compiling the data. Streamlining their work with the help of these digital solutions not only makes things more consistent and free of human error, it gives them the ability to re-deploy their time and skills to other areas, perhaps previously neglected.
Further downstream, these solutions also stand to serve your retail partners and enhance your brand, by providing better assurance of your commitment to quality products. With these dynamic solutions helping you keep better track of your food safety performance, you will not only be better equipped to identify the source of a problem but improve your organization’s ability to prevent issues before they harm the business.
For consumers, it’s a benefit they might not recognize consciously. But by using smart technology to prevent food safety crises and thus upholding your brand’s reputation, you’re continually assuring your customers that you are committed to their safety and well-being, by delivering consistently safe, quality products, time after time. What this all boils down to is a network of satisfaction. By enabling your team to automate their food safety responsibilities, your supply network can operate in better harmony. The rewards, from both a financial and reputation standpoint, span a range of brand and operational metrics that impact your business.