Food Safety Belongs in the Supply Chain

by Maureen Perroni, on January 17, 2018

The complex food supply chain benefits from easy data exchange.
The complex food supply chain benefits from easy data exchange.

Food safety isn't quite like the consumer protection built into any other industry. Food and beverage products, often bearing short shelf lives and governed by a web of intersecting rules around the world, require a special degree of careful preparation, packing and shipping, with documentation every step of the way and great supply chain visibility. Without good labeling and data management, safety could be hard to ensure and track.

No Weak Links Allowed
A compromised process at any level of the food or beverage supply chain could damage the finished product, putting consumers at risk. For this reason, it's important for products to stay both safe and visible at every stage. Food Safety News contributor Stephen Dombrowski explained that all the major players in taking food from farms to forks must be aware of their safety responsibilities, and these entities must communicate important data.

Hand-offs from one link in the chain to another are especially risky moments for the tracking of food safety information. If manufacturers are unable to quickly and easily verify data from their suppliers, they may end up with regulatory penalties, especially if their products are recalled for quality issues.

Documentation is key, and if the systems used to track information are old-fashioned, supply chain performance may suffer. Food Safety Technology contributor Dana Johnson Downing explained that many companies still use paper documentation or manually updated spreadsheets to track safety information. These methods are highly fallible compared to more automated modern alternatives.

Labeling's Critical Role
When companies employ enterprise labeling systems that can seamlessly share information between supply chain partners, they gain an important combination of efficiency and accuracy. These solutions, using barcode scanning to update centralized records, reduce the possibility of human error and increase the potential speed of food production and shipment. In the event of a recall, having such an updated custody chain can reduce money and time spent on removing affected goods from the market.

Topics:Supply ChainRegulatoryLabelingFood & Beverage