As consumer trends and tastes become more diverse, so do potential food safety issues. Newer trends such as gardens in restaurants, demand for locally sourced produce, and food delivery, will continue to pose new challenges for food safety practitioners.
Gardens in Restaurants
As some restaurants turn to introducing hydroponic gardens within their restaurants, adulteration becomes a major concern. With these gardens, typically out in the open, patrons can freely encounter the produce being grown. Typically, leafy greens or tomatoes will be grown here that need to be thoroughly washed without potential human contact, but with the open exposure, there must be HACCP processes that ensure the cleanliness of these products.
While growing your own produce on-property yields exceptionally fresh produce, Listeria and other foodborne bacteria can envelop these products, exponentially increasing the risk of creating a foodborne illness outbreak.
This is why it’s important to ensure all food safety protocols are executed. Food safety technology deploys checklist management systems that allows each employee to follow a systematic program to fulfill all necessary food safety tasks. This ensures the safety of your patrons, while protecting your establishment through the verification of proper FSMA record keeping.
Locally Grown & Produced
Consumers have increasingly begun to demand a more sustainable food chain. With more emphasis being placed on the reduction of food waste, food companies today must be hyper-vigilant in executing their best practices.
While many perceive locally sourced food to be safer, this is not necessarily the case. The produce must still be picked, sorted, transported, and distributed; just like products made at mass by larger commercial companies.
This makes traceability more important than ever. In 2016, 42 brand names were implicated in a recall of frozen fruits and vegetables, damaging their name and bottom-line. Companies must be able to trace its food precisely back to the source for FSMA compliance and record keeping purposes. Being able to display this information to not only government sources, but increases consumer confidence in your brand by bringing more value to your reputation.
Food Delivery Challenges
While companies such as Amazon begin dabbling in the produce delivery market, or Hannaford participating in the ‘To-Go’ curbside pick-up program, temperature control best practices have become increasingly more vital.
The premise of these programs seems simple. Order your groceries – have them delivered to your doorstep or just pick them up when you are out of work. However, the behind-the-scenes strategy is much more intense. How do you ensure milk or raw chicken is picked at the right temperature while simultaneously ensuring it’s delivered or picked-up within the same temperature range? How does a company know its staying within FDA compliance and further protecting the end consumer?
These are fair questions that a scribbled sales slip or manual paper trail cannot accurately answer. Data gathered by IoT devices, can answer these questions, and more, like:
• Who placed the order, authorized the purchase, and accepted the delivery?
• What was ordered and what are the products proper temperature range?
• When did the order take place and when did it arrive? When is its expiration date?
• What is the origin of the product and how did it travel to get to you?
A potential issue these supply chains will more than likely encounter is changes in the consumer’s schedule. If a customer changes their scheduled pick-up, or drop-oﬀ times, retailers must have technology in place that will monitor food safety best practices. Deli, produce, and dairy related products can use pre-determined checklists loaded that will verify items were picked correctly, bagged properly, and temperature checked to FDA regulated standards.
While FDA regulations pertaining to FSMA are stricter than ever, it has never been more important for food safety technology to be integrated within the adoption of omnichannel grocery practices. The likes of digitalized checklist management, temperature control, and traceability will have a tremendous impact on continued growth and service within the marketplace.