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Posts tagged ‘Food Safety’

Pandemic Reveals Importance of Cold Chain Integrity

Andre Patenaude | Director – Solutions Integration, Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Even the most resilient food supply chains are being challenged in ways never imagined before the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, consumers, retailers and regulators are demanding more visibility and transparency into food’s entire journey — from meat, dairy and produce plants all the way through to dinner tables, according to a recent Food Logistics article for which I was interviewed. Also quoted were my colleagues, Katrina Krites, marketing and business development manager, food retail, and Amy Childress, vice president of marketing and planning, Cargo Solutions, both with Emerson’s cold chain business.

The food supply chain is one of the segments hardest hit by the pandemic. Consumers quickly switched their buying behaviors from brick-and-mortar stores to online groceries. Spikes in demand and disruptions throughout the food supply chain led to acute shortages of certain product categories. One-third of consumers surveyed in NPD Group’s NET COVID-19 Pantry & Food Strategy Tracker still experience out-of-stock inventory months after the outbreak began.

It’s no wonder then that 81 percent of shoppers say transparency is important or extremely important to them, both online and in-store, according to a study by FMI, The Food Industry Association. Responses to the survey also revealed that consumers believe grocery retailers should provide detailed product information. Food safety clearly remains a top concern because of pandemic-related interruptions.

Delivering safe, high-quality food starts with understanding everything that contributes to food quality and safety throughout the cold chain. It’s staggering to realize that there can be potentially as many as 20 to 30 individual steps and multiple changes of ownership throughout this journey. Stakeholders at each point are now able to monitor, control and track a variety of conditions necessary for preserving food quality, including temperature, humidity, lighting and more.

Providing this greater visibility and management of inventory will require operators across the supply chain to integrate cold chain monitoring solutions and other technologies to assure food safety and on-time delivery. In addition, operators will need to implement the following:

  • Stringent operational processes
  • Enhanced supplier sourcing
  • Strong company relationships
  • An overarching standard to produce, deliver and sell food safely and ethically

See into the cold chain in real-time

Food chains have historically been opaque, long and complex. Increasingly, they are becoming more transparent, shorter and traceable. That’s occurring because consumers want to know more about where their food comes from and how it’s been handled. The impacts of the pandemic significantly increased the urgency behind this push.

According to Dan Crossley, executive director for Food Ethics Council, the question businesses should be asking is, “If our customers could see everything about how our food is produced, distributed, stored and sold, would they still want my product?”

One way to answer this question is by improving cold chain integrity. As Amy explained in the article, Emerson participates in the IBM Food Trust, where we leverage advanced cold chain technology “to provide temperature-related information on in-transit, refrigerated cargo to improve shelf-life estimates and food freshness, enabling more actionable data for IBM Food Trust network members.”

Smarter approaches to food safety

Expanding use of real-time and near real-time tracking devices and cloud-enabled software systems to monitor in-transit shipping conditions will also help operators to ensure food safety and quality. This is especially critical to keeping up with the global demand for year-round access to perishable products. Consumers want a variety of fresh produce, regardless of the location of its origin or the complex cold chain necessary to transport it by land, sea and/or air. The supply chain begins at the point of harvest and continues through processing, cold storage and distribution — all before the food ever begins the last-mile delivery to a store, restaurant or consumer. Overseas shipments can often last anywhere from two to four weeks.

Precise tracking of the condition of this food is possible with advanced hardware and software systems. For example, ProAct™ Connect+ enterprise management software from Emerson can help retailers by providing near real-time access to critical information to help retailers immediately monitor, triage and respond to issues across their multi-site networks. It also provides alarms/notifications using Emerson’s Site Supervisor and E2 facility management systems to provide continuous building and refrigeration monitoring at any location and across the enterprise.

As Katrina said in the article, “By providing enterprise management of refrigeration and other key facility systems, ProAct Connect+ can help retailers preserve food quality while meeting food safety compliance mandates.”

In-transit monitoring of food temperature, location, light, security and other sensor data for perishable cargo can be accomplished with Emerson’s GO real-time loggers and trackers and complimentary cloud-based online portal, Oversight 2. The solution’s automated reporting, real-time alerts and historical reports increase visibility into the status of in-transit cargo.

New normal: Verify food in-transit

The pandemic exposed areas of the global food supply chain that are susceptible to disruption by rapid changes in consumer behavior as well as food safety concerns. Food must be resupplied faster and kept fresh longer. Building these capabilities along with resiliency into the supply chain, will require even more focus amid our “new normal.” Those efforts will begin with the implementation of cold chain technologies that enable businesses to verify the condition of food at any and every step in its journey from producers to consumers.

 

Focus on Cold Chain Visibility for National Food Safety Education Month

AmyChildress Amy Childress | Vice President of Marketing & Planning, Cargo Solutions

Emerson’s cold chain business

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year an estimated 1 in 6 Americans (i.e., 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from eating contaminated food. To help prevent food poisoning and improve awareness of food safety best practices, the CDC has designated September as National Food Safety Education Month. For Emerson’s cold chain business, improving the quality and safety of food throughout the supply chain is a core principle. Among the many ways we are helping stakeholders fulfill this mission is through a focus on cold chain visibility technologies designed to monitor and track food conditions along its journey to consumers.

Effective cold chain visibility is a goal shared by nearly everyone actively involved with or impacted by the food supply chain. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new initiative called the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, of which traceability is a key component. Designed to build upon the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), it outlines a path forward using science and risk-based standards to help ensure food safety and prevent foodborne illnesses. With respect to traceability, the blueprint seeks to utilize modern technology to provide visibility of food from farm to table and rapidly trace contaminations to their source locations.

Temperature control and visibility technologies

Achieving precise temperature control during staging, shipping and storage is the backbone of Emerson’s strategies for helping our customers promote and achieve food safety and quality. Our products and services are designed to help stakeholders in each segment of the food cold chain implement their unique cold storage best practices and quality control methods — from proper container and facility insulation to reliable refrigeration strategies — and maintain the tightest possible temperature ranges.

Enabling visibility into food’s journey throughout the supply chain is a critical component of ensuring proper temperature control. This means our customers must have the ability to track and monitor food’s condition throughout the journey to the point of sale.

To that end, we provide refrigeration monitoring solutions that help growers, producers, shippers, restaurants and food retailers keep food within ideal temperature ranges. Throughout multiple steps of cold chain custody, our real-time monitoring devices and tracking infrastructures are helping stakeholders automate the processes of recording and documenting key data points related to food conditions, including: location, temperature, humidity, vibration and security. By leveraging these products and services, stakeholders can better use information to support their food quality and safety programs.

And since we work with multiple stakeholders, we’re better able to help facilitate information sharing and wider cold chain visibility, thereby limiting the potential for disputes while keeping the focus on preventing food safety and quality issues.

Participation with industry workgroups

Our dedication to driving food safety and quality initiatives is further demonstrated through our participation in and support of leading industry initiatives and organizations, including: the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), Produce Marketing Association, United Fresh Produce Association, and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Global Food Traceability Center. Collectively, we share the common goal of increased cold chain visibility and traceability to promote food safety and minimize global food waste.

These are all part of our efforts to further empower the cold chain by providing more actionable data for our customers and the industry. Today, our customers utilize a variety of enterprise resource planning (ERP), transportation management systems (TMS) and other information technology (IT) architectures within their businesses, and we’ve designed our devices and data formats with the flexibility to integrate with a variety of system infrastructures — all of which further promotes visibility and information sharing in the supply chain.

Achieving industry-wide visibility will require participation from all stakeholders along the chain of custody. It’s estimated that of produce shipped in the U.S. have been applied with standardized PTI case labels. Emerson encourages all growers to participate in this and other traceability initiatives. As an industry, we must help all stakeholders understand the value of capturing cold chain data and leveraging available tools and standards.

 

 

Strengthening the Cold Chain With Connected Technologies

AmyChildress Amy Childress | Vice President of Marketing & Planning, Cargo Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Maintaining food quality and safety is a primary challenge facing retailers who rely on the global cold chain to fulfill the growing demand for fresh food offerings. New technologies are emerging to provide improved visibility and traceability of perishable items, help stakeholders communicate, and ensure adherence to food safety best practices and/or regulatory requirements. I recently contributed to an article by Progressive Grocer which speaks to the importance of leveraging these technologies to achieve those goals and maintain an unbroken cold chain.

With the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent announcement of its New Era of Food Safety initiative, the technology that provides traceability and other key services is becoming more important than ever. This rapidly advancing technological toolset includes internet of things (IoT) condition sensors, temperature-sensitive flexible barcodes and blockchain. Combined, these tools are helping growers, shippers and retailers help ensure the freshest and safest possible product for consumers.

As I stated in the article: “This is especially critical with the global demand for year-round access to perishable products. Achieving this feat can require fresh produce to be transported by land, sea and air, encompassing the point of harvest, processing, cold storage and distribution — all before it ever begins the last-mile delivery to a store or restaurant.” In fact, a perishable shipment may be subject to as many as 20 to 30 individual steps and multiple changes of ownership before it reaches its destination.

Gaining visibility with IoT monitoring and tracking infrastructures

To better manage the sheer complexity of this cold chain journey, stakeholders are leveraging connected IoT monitoring technologies and tracking infrastructures. Operators now have better potential visibility into each step of food’s journey — even the possibility for comprehensive cold chain traceability. These tools — such as Emerson’s GO Real-Time Trackers and GO Loggers combined with our cloud-based Oversight online software portal — are giving stakeholders at each point the abilities to monitor and track a variety of conditions necessary for preserving food quality, including: temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, lighting and much more.

As I pointed out in the article, one of the key values of this technology is the ability to receive email or text notifications in real time when an in-transit shipment falls out of the ideal temperature range: “This allows suppliers to correct the issue promptly with the carrier or even reroute the shipment to a nearby location and preserve that perishable cargo.” Retailers and growers can also track these in-transit shipments to monitor delivery timelines and ensure that carriers are following proper shipping routes. Retailers rely on these devices to help them validate produce quality on receipt and monitor all their suppliers to ensure they’re meeting the freshness standards that their customers demand.

With Emerson’s connected monitoring and tracking infrastructure, data from our GO Real-Time Trackers and GO Loggers is pushed to the cloud and presented in Oversight, giving our customers both visibility and analysis of critical cold chain information with which to make better supply chain decisions.

End-to-end cold chain certainty

Of course, Emerson also provides the critical refrigeration components, controls and compressors to help retailers ensure optimal refrigeration temperatures in their refrigerated cases, walk-in coolers and freezers. Our advanced facility and asset monitoring systems provide real-time access to the critical information that retailers need to track, triage and quickly respond to issues that could potentially impact food safety and quality. What’s more, our automated temperature monitoring and recording devices help operators eliminate the need for time-consuming manual documentation — giving them the abilities to access on-demand reporting as needed for food safety compliance purposes and provide historical cold chain data.

 

Three Ways Restaurant Operators Can Realize the Full Potential of Connected Controls

SteveWeiss_2 Steve Weiss | Vice President, Business Development

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Food safety and quality are critical to foodservice operations, which is why the business case for kitchen connectivity tends to prioritize both. But operators who limit their use case to these factors are overlooking the potential advantages connected controls offer to their bottom line. As I explained in a recent E360 Outlook article, standard (parametric) and embedded (custom) controls with internet of things (IoT) capabilities can also serve as a catalyst for improved operational efficiencies.

Three Ways Restaurant Operators Can Realize the Full Potential of Connected Controls

The integration of standard and embedded controls is common on both the hot and cold sides of kitchen operations in order to regulate temperature and optimize performance. So it’s not a major leap to expand the application of IoT technology to reduce energy, labor and maintenance costs. Here are three ways operators can derive greater cost savings from their connected controls.

1: Reduce energy costs on the cold side

On the cold side, standard controls are typically used in a “set it and forget it” fashion. Yet advances in refrigeration control technology provide for much greater functionalities. Operators can gain real-time insights into system performance and receive alerts when temperature deviations or equipment malfunctions occur. As a result, they can address issues immediately — before they become a drag on system performance, drive up utility bills, and put food quality at risk.

Consider the repercussions of leaving a walk-in door open. This simple act can cause a chain reaction that, at best, reduces the system’s efficiency but at worst, puts the entire inventory at risk. Connected controls can issue an alert when this occurs, allowing an operator to immediately address the oversight.

2: Automate manual processes on the hot side

Embedded controls can also be connected to transform the hot side of a kitchen, such as automating kitchen preparation and implementing important checks on food safety for regulatory compliance. In connected kitchens, these controls can also collect and log Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) data, minimizing manual steps and improving documentation accuracy.

Large foodservice operators can also use their connected controls to digitally push menu changes from corporate headquarters to stores across their networks. By reducing a complex, labor-intensive process to a few simple steps, these stores can cut labor costs while guaranteeing that their menus and recipes are updated quickly and consistently.

3: Build a more effective maintenance program

Connected kitchens can also provide operators with centralized control of their entire store network — from kitchen equipment to HVAC and lighting systems. With the capabilities afforded by IoT, cloud storage and analytics software, operators can monitor system performance from their hand-held devices. And just as important, they can leverage the insights available at their fingertips to create proactive or condition-based maintenance programs. In this scenario, issues can be detected, anticipated and resolved before they disrupt operations or lead to costly truck rolls.

Getting the most out of your controls

Most refrigeration equipment manufactured in the past seven years is connectable. So for operators, the question shouldn’t be “Can we do this?” but rather, “What do we want to accomplish?” By shifting the conversation to desired outcomes, operators will be better able to make the right strategic investments to gain their desired return.

The key for operators is understanding that there is no “one size fits all” solution for attaining a connected kitchen. The IoT infrastructure should be built to deliver on your desired outcomes, rather than forcing your business objectives to conform to the system architecture. At Emerson, we’re helping restaurant operators of all sizes gain the full potential of connected controls so they can better tackle their most pressing market challenges. Learn how you can get connected by contacting an Emerson representative today.

Tracking Food Safety Data During the Cold Chain Journey

MattToone_2 Matt Toone | Vice President, Sales & Solutions – Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Whether you’re a convenience store (c-store) operator, quick-service restaurant (QSR), or a fast casual or fine dining establishment, ensuring food quality and safety is imperative to your success. In this blog, the third of a three-part series based on a recent E360 article, Minimizing Food Safety Risks From Farm to Fork, I explore how advanced technologies can protect food safety at every step in the cold chain.

Tracking Food Safety Data During the Cold Chain Journey

Food safety and quality are the cornerstones to any successful foodservice operation. The ability for operators to deliver on both, however, hinges in large part on an interdependent supply chain of multiple, diverse stakeholders. Yet many operators are unaware of the efforts required to maintain food safety and quality throughout this cold chain.

Until now.

The rise of internet of things (IoT) technologies is providing unprecedented opportunities to monitor, control and track the many factors that influence quality during food’s long journey from farms to customers. For foodservice operators, this means greater control over ensuring that food is safe on receipt. Exercising this power starts with understanding the cold chain and how data is collected.

The cold chain journey

As foodservice operators well know, the pressure to protect food safety is felt most acutely where customers buy or consume food. But every stakeholder in the cold chain is responsible for maintaining food quality and freshness:

  • Harvesting and processing: The cold chain journey begins at the moment of harvest, where everything from the time of day to environmental conditions affect quality. Processors use a variety of strategies, including temperature controls, to slow or halt the decay process. The pipeline of data monitoring also begins at this stage, with pulp temperature probes and temperature loggers and trackers.
  • Transportation: Whether food is shipped by land, sea or air, reputable transport companies will apply a variety of best practices and technologies to protect its quality. Independent temperature monitoring, logging and tracking devices that provide real-time communications are essential at this stage. These systems enable remote monitoring and issue alert notifications when deviations in temperatures, humidity, modified atmosphere settings and vibration occur.
  • Cold storage: Cold storage distribution centers are another vital link in the cold chain. Here, data is collected at several points to ensure that food meets documented food safety standards. Many of these facilities employ different temperature zones and use both industrial and commercial refrigeration technologies. Devices that can work across disparate systems to monitor, record and maintain proper temperatures are critical to providing temperature certainty.
  • Restaurants: From the moment they accept a shipment, operators take ownership of food safety. For this reason, they should meticulously inspect all data accrued during the product’s journey to ensure it was kept at optimal conditions. After receipt, advanced facility and refrigeration controls can help operators maintain proper temperatures and comply with food safety regulations.

Solutions to protect food safety at every step

The cold chain can involve multiple hand-offs as food makes a days- or weeks-long journey to its final destination. That’s why end-to-end solutions for cold chain technologies are so essential to protecting food safety. An unbroken chain of data, paired with the streamlining capabilities of IoT technologies, puts greater oversight of food quality into the hands of operators and their suppliers.

At Emerson, we have both the refrigeration expertise and targeted solutions for nearly every point along the food supply chain. Our growing portfolio of connected, communicating devices and enterprise management software provides the solutions and resources our customers need to achieve cold chain temperature certainty and verification throughout food’s journey.

From compression and refrigeration system technologies, to case controls and facility management devices, to temperature loggers, trackers and probing devices, to software and services — we’re a leading single-source partner dedicated to helping our customers ensure full cold chain integrity.

So if you’re ready to take your operation to the next level with advanced controls and technologies, contact Emerson today.

 

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