Friday Round-up (10/9/20): US and Europe Push for Food Safety Data and Records Keeping Advancements
Every week FoodLogiQ will be aggregating the latest updates and resources for businesses navigating the changing food industry. Learn how the industry leaders are adapting to protect and feed consumers, while building resilience in the face of global crisis.
The importance of data and the adoption of advanced technologies continues to be underscored by regulators, researchers and thought leaders within the food industry. And, with new proposed legislation and substantive studies released this year, the calls for systemic food supply chain data digitization and normalization are being heeded by suppliers, operators, manufacturers, distributors and retailers alike.
The FDA made waves in August reporting on exciting successes in leveraging artificial intelligence to predict risk in retrospective seafood shipping records. The proof of concept, touted as part of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative, “demonstrated that AI/ML could almost triple the likelihood that we will identify a shipment containing products of public health concern,” according to the FDA. By applying machine learning to the “tens of millions” of data points the agency collects on imports alone, regulators hope to achieve operational improvements across the board, saying, “the intelligence that ML can extract from the stores of data the FDA collects can also inform decisions about which facilities we inspect, what foods are most likely to make people sick and other risk prioritization questions.”
The importance of digital infrastructure and the use of applied machine learning were echoed by many at the Wall Street Journal’s fifth annual Global Food Forum, which gathered online on October 5, 2020. “We’ve always had mountains of data,” said Kellogg Company Chairman and CEO Steve Cahillane on the topic, but prior to the “digital revolution” enabled by AI, companies haven’t been able to be as efficient, or had the ability to be as responsive in real time using this data. “It’s inescapable that there will be more automation,” Cahillane concluded at the end of his session, “and that technology will continue to drive productivity.”
Speakers at the Forum also highlighted the pressure buying trends have on companies to adopt new technologies. Consumers are becoming increasingly attached to engaging with the food system digitally and with high levels of convenience, particularly in the age of COVID-19. Unilever's President of Foods and Refreshment Hanneke Faber explained how even items like ice cream, which is a big category for the consumer goods company, are being delivered on a single serve basis. Such consumer trends during the coronavirus crisis show how essential supply chain digital transformation is for business resilience and the ability to pivot with shifts in supply chain or demand.
However, to achieve new efficiencies and improve supply chain resilience, data collection, storage, normalization and sharing methods need industry-wide attention. In September, the European Food Safety Authority Advisory Forum Task Force on Data Collection and Data Modelling released a significant report on “data collection and reporting processes, data models, IT infrastructure and data analysis.” The findings, which were developed to articulate strategic recommendations to the EFSA, offer important insights into food safety data collection, management and usage, as well as the benefits advancements in these areas could have for the European food industry in particular.
The report outlines numerous challenges for doing data modelling and machine learning at scale, but ultimately predicts that the EU food system can transform within the next seven years. The report states, “it is conceivable that by 2027, the (EU) food safety system will be a network of highly digitalised, secure, connected and interoperable food safety systems at national and EU levels, opening up access to real-time data in all parts of the network.” The report also speaks to the value brought about by achieving secure interoperability and investing in evolved digital infrastructure. The report states that a next-gen food safety system could support “the identification of emerging risks and fraud activity, the provision of alerts, and crisis management, offer relevant contextualised literature and identify patterns of interest to food safety professionals.” This, the reports states, will enable, “substantial improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of official controls, risk assessment and risk management.” Read the full report here.
The FDA’s new proposed traceability rule, released on September 21st, will play a key role in pushing food businesses within the United States to build their own comprehensive food traceability programs in accordance with standardized record keeping requirements, and drive adoption of data better management practices within the US food system.
Don't miss FoodLogiQ's upcoming demo on virtual audits, taking place October 21st. View FoodLogiQ's COVID-19 Food Industry Resource Center for industry-specific updates, resources and information on the coronavirus crisis. For supply chain traceability and risk mitigation guidance, see our general Resource Center.
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