Food Safety: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

While the food supply chain is safer today, there are still areas to address.


“One exciting innovation is the increased use of authentication molecules, 2D barcodes and other similar technology,” he explains. “We work with manufacturers to selectively leverage these technologies. Doing so enables Inmar’s supply chain field analysts to capture lot/date codes throughout the supply chain and also identify counterfeit product. Additionally, when we process products returned for reasons such as damage, expiration, recall or withdrawal, lot codes help establish the originator of the product and authentication molecules can be checked to identify counterfeits.”

 

What’s not working

When asked about the biggest obstacle for food suppliers when it comes to safety, Avendra’s Thompson is quick to respond, “It’s clearly a lack of education.” Whether it’s at the farm level, the manufacturing level or at the consumer level, Thompson says both the industry and consumers are still not up to speed on several fronts.

As it turns out, lack of education also plays a part in what’s undoubtedly a huge problem when it comes to food safety—poor hand hygiene.

Tony Kramer, an executive with Ecolab, stated in a Webinar last year that hand hygiene is a leading contributor to foodborne illness. Specifically, bare hand contact is the number two contributing factor to foodborne illness outbreaks. [The leading contributor to foodborne outbreaks is an infected worker, while other, less frequent incidents occur because of inadequate cleaning, gloved hand contact, and raw ingredient contamination from an animal or the environment.]

Furthermore, Kramer cited statistics by the FDA that show that proper hand washing in restaurants was found to be out of compliance 73 percent of the time. While these findings are troubling, Kramer offered that simple training along with using the right products could go a long way in addressing this problem.

Avendra’s Thompson couldn’t agree more. “There are so many things that amount to good, basic practices, like hand washing and using gloves when you should use gloves, hairnets, and other things that are certainly not expensive. And when it comes to testing, it’s not necessary to have your own lab because it’s easy to put a sample in an express pouch and send it off to a facility for testing. There are also rapid tests on the market that work very well.”

In fact, new products aimed at improving food safety, which are also easy to use and affordable, are being introduced with greater frequency.

At this month’s International Restaurant and Foodservice Show in New York City, Elektron Technology debuted its Checkit wireless solution to monitor and control food safety and automate HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) processes. According to the company, “The new generation system constantly monitors temperature, humidity, door status and hygiene task completion in food storage and preparation areas with its range of intelligent wireless sensors and handheld devices.”

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