Food safety should be top of mind for foodservice organizations. The idea is surprisingly simple: keep food free of foodborne illness. The implementation of temperature controlled food safety, however, is surprisingly difficult: monitor and maintain temperature of each and every perishable food item that will be consumed. The complexity of monitoring food from farm to fork inevitably leads to negligence. Food storage, handling, and prep does not typically fall under a single organization. Farmers are not usually the folks selling their food to the public. Outside of a farmers market, perishable food items commonly have many steps to take in the food processing chain, each with its own set of unique challenges. Negligence, however small, at any one of the steps in the food supply chain can lead to severe foodborne illness.
This seemingly impossible task of managing food safety has been an issue since before we understood the causes of foodborne illness. Thankfully, an increase in our understanding of foodborne illness and the regulations as a result of this understanding have increased food safety practices. And until recently, IoT in food safety was not considered an option, despite the many obvious (and not-so-obvious) benefits it provides. SmartSense has tapped into the IoT revolution and implemented a solution that takes food safety further than it has ever been before.
The definition of food safety is simple. It includes the category of actions taken to prevent foodborne illness throughout the handling, preparation, and storage of food products. Before the publication of The Jungle in the early 1900’s, food safety was not considered as seriously as it is today. Despite Upton Sinclair’s socialist agenda, his revolutionary book proved to be the catalyst for the formation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Prior to this, food safety was not considered a priority, which can be attributed to the lack of public awareness of sanitization practices.
Food safety is broken. Foodservice professionals have been slow to adopt digital solutions for combating food safety. Pen and paper processes still dominate the industry, which prevents organizations from being proactive with their food safety efforts. As we’ll outline below, there are many advantages to digital food safety that help to reduce foodborne illness, in addition to driving tangible ROI.
First and foremost, digital food safety provides a method of alerting in real-time when temperature excursions are detected. With manual temperature checks, excursions could be missed entirely, or detected long after perishable foods have become unsafe. This is problematic for two reasons. First, customers could purchase tainted foods and contract illness from consumption. As any food safety professional knows, this is the ultimate failure with food safety strategy. Second, when excursions are detected, perishable foods are inedible and must be thrown out. This eats into operating costs, and frankly, is wasteful.
Morton Salt has created a font made from food waste to help highlight the problem. Source: https://www.mortonsalt.com/article/from-food-waste-to-font/
Real-time monitoring enables a proactive food safety strategy, preventing problems before they occur. As soon as a temperature excursion is detected, key stakeholders are notified and can remedy the situation before the food has been lost. Additionally, temperature readings are automatically recorded digitally, helping to ensure proper compliance reporting. Monitoring is done 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and on-demand reporting simplifies inspections in case of an audit.
Alerting is just one piece of the puzzle. In order to effectively prevent food safety, businesses must leverage the people aspect of their organization to reduce risk. The FDA has found that proper employee training is one of the strongest predictors of food safety compliance. People, unsurprisingly, are a significant factor when it comes to food safety. By implementing a digital checklist and task management platform, foodservice organizations gain a centralized operations platform for more effective training.
Everyone loves completing a checklist.
Employee efficiency gains are also realized through task management. Digital tools that enable smarter decision making when it comes to employee efficiency can reduce costs significantly through streamlining routine tasks. A centralized operational execution platform can also provide insight into enterprise-wide performance, and can identify poor performing stores for immediate remediation.
SmartSense has taken advantage of developments in IoT to make digital food safety a reality. Foodservice organizations have incredible opportunity to simplify food safety and improve their operations, but many do not realize the value of a digital solution. With over 30 years of experience, SmartSense provides operational excellence to customers who value food safety and the customer experience,
Subscribe to our blog to get regular email updates on food safety, pharmacy safety, and supply chain insights.
Stay up-to-date with the latest news in food and pharmacy safety, facilities monitoring, and supply chain visibility.