Standing still is not an option. As food safety moves up the global agenda, demands are being made by consumers, retailers, regulators and stakeholders to raise the level of food protection around the world. Food safety has risen to prominence for several reasons including growing population, scarcity of natural resources, globalisation, sustainability and advances in modern technology.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) 2019 Food Safety report, unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, causes more than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhoea to cancers. An estimated 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420,000 die every year.
Unsafe food practices can have devastating consequences. A food safety incident in one part of the world has the potential to go global within hours. The human and business costs of failure can be catastrophic: harm to consumers, loss of trust, damage to the brand, costs in terms of product recalls and redesign.
Read more below and download our white paper A spotlight on food safety and industry 4.0 (pdf)
Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the idea of connected manufacturing are becoming increasingly pervasive. F&B manufacturers are using robots to automate tasks, virtual reality for machine maintenance, track and trace technology for better traceability and transparency. Going digital is seen as a positive way to transform food safety and make food safe and available.
Smart manufacturing provides opportunities to tackle potential food safety issues because fully integrated collaborative systems can respond in real time to meet the changing demands and conditions in the factory. Manufacturers can be proactive in everything from hygienic design and new cleaning in place (CIP) technologies like electro-chemically activated water to quality control systems that measure compliance to food safety regulations such as good manufacturing practices (GMP).
Which technologies to use? What first steps to take?
How to make food safe without increasing operational costs?
Change the mindset: from reactive to proactive food safety; being a late tech adopter
Growth and competitive advantage
Securing food safety and quality while cutting waste and using less resources
Digital technologies help ensure food safety and quality. To date F&B manufacturers have been much slower to adopt smart technology than other industries like the aerospace or automotive sectors.
Around the world, governments are encouraging businesses to digitalise as part of their industrial strategies as they recognise the opportunities that it brings. The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that the fourth industrial revolution will create up to $3.7 trillion in value by 2025 but that much more needs to be done by all industries to unlock this value.
Digitalisation enables food security to be improved. The F&B industry needs to gather, understand and use data – move from paper to digital ways of working to satisfy its goals and consumer demands. The real power of Industry 4.0 cannot be tapped without data, and lots of it, to feed algorithms for AI, robotics and for the creation of better process management systems.
Stay safe, keep protected. Once a device is connected to an outside external network, there is a risk. Globally cybercrime is on the rise and the food industry is not immune to attack. The University of Minnesota’s Food Protection and Defense Institute says food companies need to beef up their security and IT systems. The overarching, most important step is for companies to extend their food safety and food defence culture to cybersecurity, because insecure = unsafe. As the industry moves towards a more digital world, securing systems and data is vital.
Trends like the growth of e-tailing and connecting the food value chain from end to end
New tech like DNA sequencing for traceability and rapid testing for food safety or the use of nanoencapsulation for quality issues
Increased use of robotics, remote sensors and drones
Convergence of nano-, bio-, information and cognitive sciences to generate new product markets
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