Automation technology stands strong in the fight against recalls

By: Morgan Williams, Marketing Design Coordinator

As the number of reported outbreaks associated with foodborne illnesses continues to grow, more consumers are demanding fresh produce while turning away from their pre-packaged alternatives. In fact, according to Food Engineering's article “Battling pathogens in produce,” many in the food industry are predicting 2016 to be the year of the vegetable, with “farm-to-fork” and “flexitarian” movements gaining popularity.

In spite of their new following, fresh fruits and veggies are being held to higher, stricter standards. New rules documented in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), known as the Produce Safety Rules, enforce produce safety standards and hold importers accountable for verifying that incoming food meets U.S. safety standards. These standards are established to help minimize the risk of illness deriving from foodborne pathogens. According to Michael R. Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, “the FDA is working with partners across the government and industry to prevent foodborne outbreaks. The[se] rules will help better protect consumers from foodborne illness and strengthen their confidence that modern preventative practices are in place…”

The best way to prevent contamination is to first minimize the opportunity for pathogens to enter into the facility. This is done through supplier visibility and periodical risk assessments. However, contaminated goods are still often undiscovered before they are sent out to store shelves. Therefore, the next step in preventing recalls would be to implement automation technology with sophisticated track-and-trace capabilities.

With track-and-trace technology, manufacturers have real-time inbound and outbound inventory insight at their fingertips. If a product is contaminated, the system can quickly identify the specific batch, pinpoint its departure and current location, and notify the manufacturer to pull only the faulty goods. Using the right tools and technology in the warehouse can change the way companies seek, discover and destroy dangerous foodborne pathogens. 

Publisher: Food Engineering

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