Food Safety

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FOOD SAFETY MARCH 2020 | FUTUREOFBUSINESSANDTECH.COM

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Gordon Ramsay

The celebrity chef makes food safety a priority at his 39 restaurants

How tech lets consumers trace food safety from farm to table ONLINE Stay one step ahead of foodborne illness


Empowering Ethical Food Supply Chains Global food supply chains encompass a highly complex network. Unfortunately, this network often involves labor rights violations and corrupt sourcing, which damage both brand trust and the bottom line. Food manufacturers face serious blind spots with regards to transparency and traceability. Fortunately, a recent survey by the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), Supply Chain Management Review, and Loyola University reveals that most supply chain professionals acknowledge this, with 83 percent of respondents considering supply chain ethics either extremely important or very important. Food supply chain professionals must alter the way they operate. Here’s how to start:

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Monitor suppliers Beyond increasing organizational alignment, food manufacturers must take real action to improve their supply chain practices and communicate results.

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Gain visibility Only 43 percent of survey respondents said they have an initiative in place to better understand how their suppliers function, and just 47 percent use software to monitor compliance.

The FDA Takes Food Safety Into a New Era The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is on the cusp of a sea change in how we ensure the safety of the foods we all eat and serve our families. It’s called the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, an initiative designed not only to prepare us to meet the challenges of today, but also to lay the groundwork for facing the challenges of tomorrow. We are in the midst of a food revolution. There will be more changes in the food system in the next 10 years than there have been in decades. Products will be reformulated; new food sources and production approaches will be realized; and the food system will become increasingly digitized. As an agency, we must strive to adapt to the changing world around us to protect public health. So, what is the New Era of Smarter Food Safety? It’s a path forward that builds on implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). We intend to build on this work by leveraging the use of new and emerging technologies to strengthen our predictive capabilities, accelerate prevention, and speed outbreak response. We are working on a blueprint, which we plan to publish soon, that will outline our plans to make this dream a reality, focusing on these priority areas:

of data, we believe that federal agencies’ ability to conduct root-cause analyses and predict potential sources of contamination will be greater, and we believe that findings from this work can be used to better inform the framework that FSMA established. New business models With e-commerce transforming how food is ordered and delivered and other new business models offering new foods and food production systems, we want to help ensure that regulatory requirements for food safety keep pace with this growing segment of the retail food industry. Retail modernization We’re focusing on changing behaviors and practices to help ensure the safety of foods sold at retail food establishments. FDA research shows that out-of-compliance rates for retail risk factors (such as inadequate handwashing and the wearing of gloves) have not changed in decades.

Educate consumers Heighten your supply chain’s transparency and arm people with the information they need to make the best possible choices in the grocery aisle. n

Tech-enabled traceability We want to tap into new technologies and data streams to trace the origin of a contaminated food to its source in minutes, or even seconds, instead of days or weeks.

Food safety culture We are looking to support and strengthen food safety cultures on farms and in food facilities, influencing how employees think about food safety and demonstrate a commitment to this goal. We’re talking about doing our work differently and in a way that will support giving consumers the confidence they deserve to have in the safety of the food supply. n

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE, Chief Executive Officer, Association for Supply Chain Management

Smarter tools and approaches With better traceback and more streams

Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, FDA

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Implement standard frameworks Chief supply chain officers and other C-suite leaders must coordinate across business functions to continuously uphold supply chain ethics.

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The Global Food Safety Initiative Addresses Threats to Food Safety Erica Sheward, director of the Global Food Safety Initiative, outlines the emerging challenges facing the world’s food supply chain. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), an organization dedicated to ensuring global food safety and security, will release the latest version of its benchmarking requirements at its upcoming conference in February. Erica Sheward, director of GSFI, says that the new benchmarking requirements (version 8) will address many emerging risks facing the global food supply chain. “We have lots of insights based on scientific evidence around things that really need to be challenged and supported,” Sheward says. Updated standards Among the new risks addressed in the updated standard are the prevalence of food fraud and the culture of dedication to food safety within food supply companies. “The culture of an organization and its employees is absolutely a critical success factor in delivering safe food,” Sheward says. “Everybody that’s involved in the busi-

ness needs to be culturally committed and understand what role they play in delivering safe food.” GFSI is thinking ahead to future risks to food safety as well. “We’re thinking very much at the moment about climate change and the impact of climate change on commodities and risk,” Sheward says. With rising sea levels and increasingly hostile weather patterns, agricultural land will be subject to greater risk, particularly for popular commodities such as coffee, tea, and cocoa. “These are commodities that we know are going to be subject to some very challenging climate change issues.” Consumer behavior Other risks to the global food supply chain are driven by consumers. Many of the food supplier businesses and partners of GFSI see the fast emergence of innovative, novel foods as a danger to the supply chain. “The environment in which novel foods are being introduced into mainstream products is a challenge for food suppliers because they would do that at a much slower pace than some of the edgy, innovative startup businesses

Protecting the World’s Food From Disease and a Changing Climate Given the increasing threats to food safety and security, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations is working to ensure food safety.

that are challenging them.” Typical ways in which foods are kept safe — additives used to increase shelf life, for example — are now undesirable for consumers. “People want natural foods,” Sheward says. “They don’t want to see rows and rows of words on a label that they don’t understand.” The future of food Suppliers must find new ways to ensure food safety while meeting consumer demands, but changes are happening so quickly the safety standards struggle to keep up. “The innovation and the safety considerations are not aligned,” Sheward says. While GFSI is celebrating 20 years this year, its upcoming conference is not just a celebration. “Whilst we are focusing very much on celebrating our longevity and celebrating our success, we are very keen to ensure that people don’t get the sense that we’re feeling complacent,” Sheward says. “Quite the contrary. We’ve never needed to be more relevant, agile, and determined to drive excellence in food safety forward.” n Ross Elliott

At any point along the supply chain, food is at risk of contamination. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations ensures food safety and security across the globe. “Food safety is really everybody’s business,” says FAO’s senior food safety officer, Markus Lipp. “Only if everybody plays their part — consumers, governments, industry, farmers — is food safe.” Developing countries One of FAO’s primary jobs is strengthening institutions in developing countries where food is at higher risk. “We in the developed or western world can take food safety for granted because our institutions work,” Lipp says. “That is not the case in countries where informal markets dominate, where there is maybe no institutional strength to enforce legislation or to enforce limits.” Consequences Such risks threaten not only the food supply, but also global health — the coronavirus outbreak is a prime example — as well as the economy. “If a country is dependent on the agricultural economy, then it’s a drama for the whole country,” Lipp says. Climate change But perhaps the greatest threat facing the global food supply is climate change. “From a production perspective, the changes in temperature will probably require new plant varieties,” Lipp says. “That is easier said than done, because first of all, one needs to figure out which of the plant varieties can cope with the new circumstances better. Second, someone needs to produce enough seed material for everyone.” With increasing threats to food safety and security around the world, the work of the FAO is more important than ever. n The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of FAO. Ross Elliott MEDIAPLANET • 3


New Tech Is Revolutionizing Food Supply Chains Two experts on food supply chain management discuss how new technology is helping food suppliers ensure product safety. What’s the biggest challenge the food industry faces today?

What’s on the horizon for food safety tech?

Jeff Clark: The biggest challenge the food industry faces today is a global supply chain. Growers, manufacturers, and suppliers are supplying customers on a global basis, which creates challenges. Three of the biggest challenges brought on by this global supply chain are product traceability, regulatory compliance, and inventory management.

JC: Real-time GPS technologies are well established in many industries, including pharma. These same technologies are now being implemented in the food industry supply chain and are bringing stakeholders realtime visibility.

Randy Smith: Lot traceability. It’s not just a legal requirement but also a powerful selling tool for food manufacturers. Those manufacturers that can successfully (and quickly) demonstrate how

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Jeff Clark Founder and CEO, 7PSolutions

they can electronically identify the source of quality issues and any affected products have a huge advantage over those tracking the same data manually. How does technology innovate the supply chain? JC: Real-time GPS solutions allow stakeholders to manage global supply chains based on

Randy Smith CEO and Co-founder, Vicinity Software

real-time data. This data assists companies in documenting full chain of custody and compliance with regulations. RS: Everything from inventory management to centralized food safety control software, QC test consistency and reporting, and traceability and lot recall uses technology to make operations better.

RS: Sharing the origination information up and down the food chain. Ingredient sources and handling processes are collected and suppliers can share this data with those using the ingredients in next step processes. QR codes, supplier portals, or other tracking mechanisms share this information. n


New and Emerging Technologies Must Advance Food Safety New technology can help the food industry stay ahead of challenges in food safety.

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n general, the food industry has been far behind other industries when it comes to implementing innovative technology. The adoption rate has been slow for a variety of reasons, including cost, resources, management buy-in, and the need to see a short-term return on investment. Last year, the FDA announced an initiative called the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, which could play a key role in promoting the adoption of technologies that enable more effective collaboration

among all industry stakeholders.

provide the following benefits to the industry:

Food revolution “I believe that we’re in the midst of a food revolution,” says Frank Yiannas, FDA deputy commissioner for food policy and response, during the 2019 Food Safety Consortium. “Products will be reformulated, new food sources and production approaches will be realized, and the food system will become increasingly digitized.” The technologies that emerge as clear winners will be solutions that

• Streamlining (and potentially automating) processes and systems • Increasing efficiencies • Promoting visibility and centralization in record-keeping and documentation • Providing full transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain • Generating data that provides actionable results • Facilitating consumer trust

Improving Food Safety While Promoting Consumer Trust SPONSORED

When a food safety event occurs, consumers can be confused if the produce item they purchased is involved. To overcome that confusion, technology is providing solutions through item-label traceability which allows

consumers to quickly check the quick response (QR) codes on packaging or stickers to determine the product source. iFoodDecisionSciences (iFoodDS) and HarvestMark are advancing not only item-level traceability but also improved food safety data tracking to benefit consumers and protect public health. “Traceability has a critical role, particularly in the event of a product recall. HarvestMark’s system and

iFoodDS’ software tell us not only where a product came from in the supply chain, but also what happened to the product at every step along the way,” explains Diane Wetherington, CEO of iFoodDS. Current traceability systems limit the ability for retailers, restaurants, and consumers to effectively determine if a produce item is impacted by a recall or outbreak event. “Working through every step of the supply chain,

In an age of resource and cost constraints, technology must help the industry work smarter and with agility. There is increased emphasis on implementing tools that can minimize foodborne illness outbreaks, while also providing the communication and data–sharing necessary to allow companies and federal agencies to act quickly and communicate effectively when an issue that compromises consumer safety arises. New technology “In 2020, technology is

HarvestMark and iFoodDS jointly deliver transparent end-to-end traceability whether on a blockchain or a web-based platform,” adds Minos Athanassiadis, director at HarvestMark. Preventative measures While item-level traceability helps retailers and consumers at the store level, datadriven software focuses on identifying and preventing risk to help farmers, shippers, and processors improve their food safety practices. “For real-time solutions, data is critical. Throughout the supply chain, we are collecting data, mostly on paper, and documenting what is being done throughout the day in our food safety operations.

going to begin to connect itself along the entire supply chain, bringing together disparate pieces and equipping supply chain professionals with action-oriented data,” says Sasan Amini, CEO of Clear Labs. “From testing advances that improve speed, accuracy, and depth of information to modular software solutions to promote transparency, the food safety industry is finally finding its footing in a data-driven sea of technological and regulatory advances.” n Maria Fontanazza, Editor-inChief, Food Safety Tech

That data has great value,” Wetherington explains. “We need data to better understand food safety risks for predictive modeling and then apply our findings to similar operations and product varieties in order to minimize those risks,” she adds. As it has for other industries, technology is providing easier, more effective and impactful data mining for food while minimizing marketplace confusion. “The system allows us to help companies easily review and track food safety data and identify trends to facilitate continuous improvement and ultimately to better protect consumers,” Wetherington says. n iFoodDecisionSciences MEDIAPLANET • 5


Food Safety Matters to Gordon Ramsay What was your �ırst experience with cooking? It was at home with my mom. But when it came to a more professional setting, it was when I had to leave the soccer field behind and fi nd my second passion at culinary college. How do you ensure quality and consistency throughout all of your restaurants? First off, we have an amazing team behind the scenes that visits our restaurants weekly, if not daily. We also use secret diners and do unannounced checks frequently. We need to make sure everyone is on their toes at all times.

As a restaurateur and chef, how important is food safety to your business? It’s extremely important. With 39 restaurants around the world, any customer who becomes sick can take down our business in one tweet. So for me and my staff, they know how important cleanliness and food safety is, and we take it very seriously. What do you hope that everyone who eats your food comes away thinking? My hope is that they’ve had a delicious meal with impeccable service that will keep them coming back for more or remember for the rest of their year. So many people come through the doors at Hell’s Kitchen in Las Vegas and comment about what a magical experience it’s been, from the service to the food, and that’s what I strive for. n

Reinventing the Pallet for the Modern Age SPONSORED

Everything you buy sat on a pallet at some point. A supplychain disruptor is making pallets stronger, safer, and smarter. Among the most important things in our lives is something we typi6 • FUTUREOFBUSINESSANDTECH.COM

cally don’t see or think about: shipping pallets. Wooden “skids” are ubiquitous. More than 900 million were produced last year alone, and about 2 billion currently circulate in the United States annually. “The whole world moves on a pallet,” said Jeffrey Owen, founder and CEO of Lightning Technologies (https://lightningtechnologies. com/), with corporate headquarters in Oxford, Michigan. “Everything you have in your house came there at some point on a pallet.”

Disrupting the world Pallets haven’t changed much since their introduction in the 1920s. Traditional wood pallets can harbor bacteria and spoil and contaminate food. They are difficult to clean and sanitize and offer zero data to companies during the shipping process. Owen, recently referred to as “The Prince of Pallets” by Forbes, is shaking things up. “We took the best of the wood world, the plastic world and the technology world.” Lightning’s innovative pallets are encapsulated with an antifungal and antimicrobial polyurethane coating (it’s the only pallet certified by NSF International). The end result is a pallet that is hygienic, antibacterial, fire retardant, and durable — expected to last at least

PHOTO: POLARIS PR

Gordon Ramsay, chef and TV personality, tells us about how his restaurants prioritize food safety and customer experience.

10 years compared to a traditional pallet’s three-month lifespan. The real game changer for logistics companies is a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) tracking chip in each Lightning pallet, which actively transmits temperature, humidity, impact, and vibration data. This allows companies to react in real time to conditions affecting their products — which is among the reasons why some of the biggest names in the fruit and vegetable industry are interested in or already using them. “Lightning is a major disruptor in this industry,” said Owen, who Food Logistics magazine called a “Rock Star of the Supply Chain.” “We have set quality standards never before seen in the global supply chain.” n Jeff Somers


What Is Lurking in the Pork Sold at Walmart Stores? Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been found in pork sold by Walmart. The company must work harder to ensure food safety and animal welfare.

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he discovery of antibiotics was one of the greatest achievements in medicine. But today, antibiotic-resistant bacteria (superbugs) have led us into a post-antibiotic era. Vital medicines are no longer as effective, and routine procedures are again lifethreatening. Antibiotics in farming Important antibiotics are routinely used to prop up low-welfare farming practices. Despite years of pressure and progress globally, 70 percent of medically important antibiotics in the United States are still sold

for use in animals, with around 36 percent in the pork industry. Mounting evidence shows antibiotic residues leak into the food chain and environment, and superbugs develop and spread through the food chain or via workers. Contaminated pork Last year, testing found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in pork sold at Walmart. Roughly 27 percent of these resistant bacteria were resistant to the highest priority critically important antimicrobials (HPCIA), drugs for which there are few or no alternatives to treat serious infections.

Also tested was the pork of another leading national retailer. None of its samples contained bacteria resistant to critically important antibiotics or HPCIAs. Low-welfare practices Pregnant pigs are routinely given antibiotics to prevent urinary, hoof, vaginal, or shoulder infections that result from the stress and injury caused by poor conditions. Walmart has not yet committed to requiring its pork suppliers to end the use of gestation crates, whereas the second retailer has. Gestation crates are

physical restraints that prevent pregnant pigs from taking more than a couple of steps or turning around; they are confined to this crate for weeks on end. Eighty-four percent of Walmart customers want to see this cruelty banned, and industry practices cannot continue to put animals and public health at risk. Walmart must care more and do better by publicly committing to source pork only from suppliers that provide open housing that promotes healthier, happier pigs. n World Animal Protection

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