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Key issues for food safety identified

Intelleflex asks industry experts their point of view on cold chain issues

What is the first step that the industry should take to improve food safety and traceability in the light of concerns about food safety in the cold chain?

Most people take food safety for granted. But, with the trend of buying ready-to-eat foods at a wide variety of sale points, extra precaution should be made as temperature maintenance plays a critical role in the safety of food. Utilizing temperature monitoring during the entire distribution process can provide crucial temperature data during storage, transportation and while on display. Reliable temperature monitoring allows for proactive approaches rather than reacting to problems that previously occurred. By resolving issues before they become a serious problem, you can avoid loss of product as well as the loss of customer loyalty and safety.
Dr Jean-Pierre Emond, director of cold chain research, Georgia Tech

An integrated food safety system combining traceability and food safety data would reduce risks, shorten recall times and provide inter-operation communications along the supply chain. Food safety data can be used to rank suppliers and handling operations. Low scoring operations would equate to high risk. During a recall, high risk operations would be the first required to provide traceability information thus allowing recall specialists the opportunity to quickly locate, test and dispose of adulterated food.
Dr John Ryan, president, Ryan Systems

Prevention and traceability are the two cornerstones that must be implemented and practiced by all players from field to fork. End-to-end food handling, storage and preparation practices that emphasize best practices for food safety are the best way to insure that a cold chain product is clean, fresh and safely consumable. Tracking and tracing of food products and related supply chain components is necessary if a food safety situation occurs that requires audit or trace-back.
Jack Sparn, chief innovation officer, iGPS

The cold chain role with food safety is primarily ensuring that perishable food items are stored within established temperature ranges. Technology helps by monitoring temperatures throughout the cold chain and providing alerts for any excursions. New technology allows us to implement monitoring at the pallet level affordably without disrupting work flow. Automated data capture of product moving in the supply chain provides a single data store enabling an instant recall in the event of a problem, versus getting all supply chain stakeholders to report where the product came from, what they had and where they shipped it.
Mike Nicometo, founder, FreshXperts

Traceability is a good starting point for food safety, but it needs to be implemented across a product’s full supply chain to be effective. Simply reporting “one up” and “one down” relationships makes recalls difficult and time consuming, as multiple hops need to be traversed to collect complete data. Manual collection of product data at each site, either by invoice or bar code, has a high enough data entry error rate that it is not suitable for food safety and traceability. The industry needs a solution that captures the full supply chain history automatically and at every touch point – that would deliver actionable traceability data.
Peter Mehring, president and chief executive, Intelleflex

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