Future-Proof Your Brand: Food Safety Trends Over the Next 5 Years
If you’re someone who’s responsible for the livelihood of your food organization’s brand, you’d likely jump at the opportunity to see into the future and prepare for what’s in store. After all, your brand is a precious commodity -- the lifeblood of your business -- and you know that protecting it is an absolute necessity. Luckily, you don’t need a fortune teller or a crystal ball to get a glimpse into food safety five years down the road.
You simply need to recognize the emerging trends, respect the compliance landscape and heed the advice of industry experts.
One thing is for sure: The food safety industry is evolving rapidly! Especially now, at a time of significantly heightened regulations and full-powered technological advancement, the ways in which food brands and manufacturing companies approach safety are evolving at an unprecedented rate.
Consumers expect more, the government demands more, and your brand won’t survive unless you deliver.
So, what do you need to know about the future? What should you expect to see in the next five years? And how can you equip your organization to meet these realities head on? Take note of these developing food safety trends for the information and guidance you need to future-proof your brand.
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Ubiquitous Devices and the Internet of Things
There’s no denying that the Internet is everywhere. It’s in our homes, in our automobiles, even in the palm of our hands. It’s the fiber of connectivity in every industry. So there should be no surprise that it continues to permeate the realm of food safety.
This is a good thing! It means that once disconnected, siloed, inefficient ways of managing and improving food safety, compliance and brand risk are now transformed! They’re faster, more integrated and more insightful. They’re much more capable of easing the burden on you. Consider how some of the following devices and IoT technologies are poised to support your efforts over the next several years:
- In lieu of having to monitor equipment and product temperatures manually, wireless sensors are now connecting refrigerators and other temperature-controlled environments to the cloud, equipping users to view this information or receive alerts via their mobile devices in real time.
- Video camera analytics allow the monitoring of assembly lines, detection of irregularities and recording activities impacting safety, producing data and insight that can be leveraged for compliance and preventive purposes.
- QR codes are giving consumers the ability to scan and link to web pages with detailed information on everything from the field in which their food was harvested to the final stages of packaging and labeling.
Visibility, efficiency, connectivity -- this is the future of food safety. If you want to put your brand in a position to meet the challenges posed by government regulation and consumer expectation, it’s important to acknowledge these trends and begin adopting them as part of your own food safety plans and processes.
Predictive Analytics and Preventive Science
As IoT devices and connected technologies pave the future of food safety, they bring another important benefit to the table: big data. Every opportunity for connectivity and communication presents a critical, valuable data point. This data, in turn, lends itself to predictive analytics that help companies implement stronger preventive measures for food safety.
Given the stricter compliance requirements introduced by FSMA, predictive analytics are becoming extremely pertinent to food brands across the country. This data, along with scientific advancements like Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS), equips companies to put a greater emphasis on proactive food safety efforts.
WGS involves determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism at once. With this advantage, manufacturing plants can improve the speed and accuracy with which they identify and detect microorganisms, thereby addressing the potential for foodborne illness much more rapidly and effectively. The FDA can also trace any foods that contain illness-causing pathogens back to their producers, linking certain foodborne illnesses to the foods that caused them.This data and technology is a positive contributor to public health, but it further increases the accountability of food producers. Therefore, it’s necessary to understand the trend’s effect on your brand and take the necessary steps to be vigilant about detecting and eliminating pathogens before they affect the safety of your food products.
All this data needs to be captured, parsed, analyzed and acted upon. When thinking about digital solutions for your brand protection operations keep this in mind!
Automated Preventive Controls and Workflow Management Software
If your food quality management system is a labor-intensive process of manual spreadsheets, paper trails and gaps in communication, know that the future of food safety will bring major challenges to your operation. Automation through comprehensive software will no longer be a luxury, but rather a necessity to protect your brand! Here are some important reasons why:
- Process Improvement: You can’t keep up with shifting food safety regulations and operational efficiency unless you have streamlined processes in place. All departments, functions, schedules and data must be tightly managed if you have any chance of overcoming food safety challenges and reputational risks. Automated controls and workflow management software equip your organization to strengthen communication; collect, assess and report on critical data; manage testing schedules; prepare for audits and respond quickly when corrective actions are warranted.
- Cost Effectiveness: Ignoring the need for automation can lead to revenue plummets, food recalls, wasted investments, loss in consumer trust and possibly even business failure. These are serious financial reasons to make automated preventive controls and workflow management software a high priority.
- Employee Awareness and Involvement: It’s essential to have effective tools in place that make the responsibility of food safety a wholly shared one -- from top-level stakeholders to maintenance, QA and the lab. Without a fully automated system, how can you really empower each department to gain a strong understanding of food safety and take part in risk management? They need easy access to an organized database of policies, workflows and reporting, a way to seamlessly exchange information and features to support scheduling, standardization and compliance.
- Control and Visibility: When it comes to ensuring quality and safety, a lack of control or visibility can cause major problems. You need the automation and software to detect and control all aspects from personnel cleanliness and hygiene to equipment sanitation protocols, temperature requirements, chemical reactions, ingredient mixing and package storage. For every component of your quality and safety plan, there must be a verification process, documentation, evaluation, reporting and more. Without the control and visibility that automation provides, your efforts to meet these needs become less effective.
The future of food safety is closer than it appears. Preparations to meet these evolving trends and protect your brand must begin now if you intend to keep up. In order to gain a deeper understanding of where your strategies in this area may not be meeting the necessary standards, take our free quiz.