In the modern world, our economy is global, and food supply is more far-reaching than ever before. This increased food supply is accompanied by increased complexity in food supply chains. In turn, our complex chains have entrenched aspects of risk in terms of food safety and adulteration; and so, the food industry must focus on increasing visibility in food chains, to mitigate risk. How can we increase visibility?
As it stands
The year is coming to an end; and with it, a decade filled with incidents related to food safety and adulteration. These incidents have certainly been potentiated by the integration of social media into society – resulting in increased consumer awareness around food, and a demand for transparency from the food industry.
2018 saw in excess of 13 000 different reports relating to food safety and adulteration incidents. In 2019 there were over 2 000 incidents, many of which resulted in food recalls. Most of the recalls were due to issues that occurred in the supply chain.
The recalls commonly occurred in processed foods, and the main cause was the presence of undeclared allergens in the food products. The second most common cause was the presence of microbiological hazards. Interestingly, food fraud-related recalls made up only a small proportion of total recalls. Was this due to fewer incidents being recorded, or because of the lack of visibility in complex food chains? It’s safe to assume it was the latter.
What does visibility entail?
Visibility is defined as the ability to track of all components in a supply chain from the farm to the end consumer, with the end goal of ensuring consumer safety and a reduction in food waste and recalls – and to maintain compliance with regulations.
How to improve visibility in your supply chain
Improving supply chain visibility is a growing priority in the food industry, for consumers, regulators and customers of manufacturers. Sadly, on average most food manufacturers are able to track only 5% of their total supply chain, leaving 95% of it exposed and vulnerable.
The truth of the matter is that generally, employees are expected to assess risks involved in their supply chain without the proper resources or tools.
For one thing, relying on internet searches for risks associated with thousands of ingredients or types of food product can be time-consuming – and unreliable, with all the fake news trending on our feeds.
Similarly, using supplier documents as a source of information is equally unreliable, as verification of these documents is required. The use of supplier documents is also a source of conflicts of interest.
There are many digital solutions available, such as blockchain technologies and databases that make use of issue-tracking, to ensure an effective, visible traceability system that enables a quick response to problems that emerge and decreases their impact, by highlighting the exact source of each problem.
FACTS is the go-to-company for peace of mind.