When a food safety event occurs, consumers can be confused if the produce item they purchased is involved.
To overcome that confusion, technology is providing solutions through item-label traceability which allows consumers to quickly check the quick response (QR) codes on packaging or stickers to determine the product source. iFoodDecisionSciences (iFoodDS) and HarvestMark are advancing not only item-level traceability but also improved food safety data tracking to benefit consumers and protect public health.
“Traceability has a critical role, particularly in the event of a product recall. HarvestMark’s system and iFoodDS’ software tell us not only where a product came from in the supply chain, but also what happened to the product at every step along the way,” explains Diane Wetherington, CEO of iFoodDS. Current traceability systems limit the ability for retailers, restaurants, and consumers to effectively determine if a produce item is impacted by a recall or outbreak event.
“Working through every step of the supply chain, HarvestMark and iFoodDS jointly deliver transparent end-to-end traceability whether on a blockchain or a web-based platform,” adds Minos Athanassiadis, director at HarvestMark.
While item-level traceability helps retailers and consumers at the store level, data-driven software focuses on identifying and preventing risk to help farmers, shippers, and processors improve their food safety practices. “For real-time solutions, data is critical. Throughout the supply chain, we are collecting data, mostly on paper, and documenting what is being done throughout the day in our food safety operations. That data has great value,” Wetherington explains. “We need data to better understand food safety risks for predictive modeling and then apply our findings to similar operations and product varieties in order to minimize those risks,” she adds.
As it has for other industries, technology is providing easier, more effective and impactful data mining for food while minimizing marketplace confusion. “The system allows us to help companies easily review and track food safety data and identify trends to facilitate continuous improvement and ultimately to better protect consumers,” Wetherington says.