Due to the urgent need to raise awareness and to facilitate actions for global food safety, last year the United Nations General Assembly designated June 7 as World Food Safety Day. While this day is now behind us for 2019, it’s a well-deserved reminder now and in years to come of the critical importance of food safety, and the role of food retailers, suppliers and technology partners alike to ensure it goes uncompromised.
As a global community, we have seen food recalls on a steep rise, and many believe automation, testing technological advances and speed to market are contributing factors. According to Food Safety Tech, food recalls overall are up 93 percent since 2012. Bacterial contamination and undeclared allergens are the leading cause of food recalls.
Looking at total food recalls in Canada, the UK and the US for 2018 there were a total of 440* - on average, that’s 37 monthly recalls. These recalls are about 50 percent due to contamination and 50 percent is simply due to mislabeling!
The retail industry is more complex now than at almost any time in history. Not only are consumers looking for unique, high-quality goods at fair prices, they are increasingly wanting assurance that their purchases were ethically sourced, safe to consume and they can trust the label.
In this fast-changing retail climate, to fulfill their brand promise, retailers must demonstrate due diligence in their collection, capture and validation of supplier and product data. There is an obvious necessity for retailers to respond quickly to any issues by forensically interrogating these data attributes.
The good news is many of the world's top brands are taking the necessary steps to protect their consumers. Solutions that collaboratively bring the market together to anticipate risks, ensure compliance and manage corrective actions to maintain consumer trust promote safety for all. For these retailers, this can mean the difference between minutes or weeks when analyzing and removing products from store shelves to keep consumers safe.
With the combination of new technologies, grocers will be able to link data across their retail supply chain, by using Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality applications and devices. This will help food retailers ensure the integrity of their materials and end products, but when coupled with artificial intelligence, create new insights and opportunities to improve business processes, unlock new possibilities and help keep food safe for consumers.
*Sources: FDA (Food & Drug Administration), FSA (Food Standards Agency) and CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency)