Nowadays, consumers concerned with food safety have a growing interest in not only knowing where their food originated but also the process by which it arrived at the store and ultimately in their homes or businesses. Harnessing that process can be complicated, as each producer, manufacturer, packager, and retailer operates using a different set of systems to track products as they move from one entity to another.
This can be problematic. For instance, discrepancies between tracking systems can make it difficult to isolate the provenance of food-borne illness or contamination and make it nearly impossible to isolate products that may contribute to the spread of those diseases. Or similarly, inconsistencies in tracking information can inadvertently hide fraudulent activity or inappropriate labeling. Such instances can have a significant impact on the safety and reliability of food products as they move from farm to table.
However, the rate of these unfortunate incidents can be dramatically reduced by implementing a food safety logistics plan that seeks to reduce the spread of contaminants in the supply chain.
Food Safety Logistics Solution 1: Blockchain Network
One solution is to implement a blockchain network. In essence, a blockchain offers the network of entities within the supply chain a unified set of systems and transactions that bolsters trust and cooperation among the parties while also protecting their individual interests.
Blockchains can be a solution to ensuring food safety because it enables each link in the supply chain to trust that the food products received from the previous link have been subjected to a specific process. The data relating to each of these transactions is easily uploaded and accessed through the blockchain and different entities along the supply chain no longer have to sort through piles of paperwork to locate product information related to a particular product at a particular time. This accessibility grants anyone within the supply chain the ability to ensure compliance with the agreed-upon processes and also encourages accountability among each entity. Furthermore, the simplified tracking software allows producers, manufacturers, and retailers to identify and isolate mistakes made as the product makes its way along the supply chain.
While not every corporation operating within a supply will have the resources to implement a blockchain system within their supply chain, there are other precautions that can be taken to offset the risks of food-related illnesses.
Food Safety Logistics Solution 2: It’s All About the Equipment
For example, shipping pallets and other transportation equipment can be full of chemicals or residues left over from previous shipments, which can be transferred to food products over time if they aren’t properly cleaned between uses. Sanitizing pallets between uses or using different shipping equipment between trips can prevent the transfer of contaminants between products. To facilitate the sanitation process, companies should invest in pallets that can be easily cleaned and are made of materials that will prevent the absorption of contaminating agents.
Food Safety Logistics Solution 3: Certification Programs
Consumer trust can also be promoted by encouraging supply chains to carry out compliance programs at various stages throughout production. While the government sets the minimum standards that supply chain must meet to comply with food safety regulations, companies can raise the minimum benchmarks to ensure stricter oversight over the food that passes through the supply chain. Organizations, such as the Global Food Safety Initiative, collaborate with food producers, transporters, retailers and manufacturers across the country to design various certification programs aimed at improving and advancing food safety. Operating in compliance with one or more of these certification programs can decrease the likelihood of food contamination in the supply chain.
Ensuring food safety can be a daunting and even complicated task, but implementing the right processes can ease the burden, therefore benefiting consumers by promising safer products and protecting a company’s reputation.