Tag Archives: grocery

Mice, pests

Pests Don’t Rest During a Pandemic

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Mice, pests

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the closure of hundreds of restaurants, food processors and other businesses nationwide. As weeks went on, increased rodent activity plagued many businesses, some of which has been attributed to a change in food sources and availability—so much so that the CDC released a warning about rodent control in restaurants and other commercial businesses that have either been closed or have had limited service during the pandemic. “Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behavior,” the CDC stated last month.

As the American economy reopens, many food establishments and facilities must consider three key points that will affect pest management during this time:

  • Pest pressure continues. Rodents are on a never-ending search for food, water and harborage.
  • Change in business patterns. Different inbound and outbound shipments; changes in employee shifts and production schedules; new supply chain partners.
  • Service provider access. Access to facilities and secure areas; changes in facility structure, equipment and storage

Factoring the many changes that COVID-19 has prompted, the role of pest management is more important than ever. We invite you to join us for Food Safety Tech’s upcoming complimentary virtual conference, “Integrated Pest Management: Protect Food Safety and Prevent the Spread of Pathogens”, on June 30. Our Technical Service Lead, Joe Barile, will discuss pest management and risk mitigation in the COVID-19 world; he will be followed by Orkin’s VP of Quality Assurance and Technical Services, Judy Black, on the key components to successful IPM and pest management programs, and Angela Anandappa, Ph.D. of the Alliance for Advanced Sanitation on how an effective sanitation program can protect against pest and food contamination. Register now.

Marketside Ground Beef

Nearly 43,000 Pounds of Ground Beef Recalled Due to Potential E. Coli Contamination

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Marketside Ground Beef

Swedesboro, NJ-based Lakeside Refrigerated Services recalled about 42,922 pounds of ground beef products over concern of potential E. coli O157:H7 contamination. The Class I recall involves raw ground beef products that were produced on June 1.

The issue was uncovered during routine FSIS testing. The products were reportedly distributed to retailers, including Walmart, nationwide. Thus far there are no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of the affect products.

A full list of the recalled products are available on the USDA’s website.

Angela Fernandez, GS1

COVID-19 Puts More Emphasis on Supply Chain Visibility and Data Quality: A Conversation with Angela Fernandez of GS1 US

By Maria Fontanazza
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Angela Fernandez, GS1

The food industry is adapting in completely new ways as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Retailers are scrambling to keep certain items on store shelves and manufacturers are adjusting their production strategies based on realistic and ever-shifting needs. In a recent discussion with Food Safety Tech, Angela Fernandez, VP of community engagement at GS1 US and FST editorial advisory board member, talks about how companies can improve relationships with trading partners in the face of COVID-19.

Food Safety Tech: What issues do you see happening in the supply chain right now?

Angela Fernandez: Our food supply chain is experiencing overwhelming demand. As an organization that collaborates with both the retail grocery and foodservice sectors to solve supply chain challenges, we’re working with industry on how we can make our supply chain more efficient in the short term, and make it more resilient in the long term.

Consumers are frustrated by empty shelves and the demand created by the pandemic is changing the movement of products. Right now, products are not always accounted for in transit, there are production issues depending on category, and food produced for foodservice outlets like restaurants, schools, and hotels can’t always be easily diverted to a supermarket. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is lifting restrictions on the sale of food so that it is possible for items that may have been produced for foodservice “sale” to be sold in a supermarket.

FST: In what particular areas are you seeing inventory shortages that are impacting retailers and suppliers?

Fernandez: We’re seeing a couple of different dynamics. For suppliers that produce products for both retail and foodservice channels, we see a shift in reducing production on foodservice items and an increasing manufacturing on their retail product lines. We’re also seeing foodservice suppliers that have not serviced the retail channel previously are now looking to establish new relationships with retailers and recession-proof their businesses. This is not happening as fast as consumer demand for perimeter products like dairy and produce, so we see shortages and products expiring before they can be sold to these new retail customers.

Additionally, food product variation and customization is decreasing. If you think about your own experience going to the grocery store today, or arranging for a delivery, you’re seeing fewer flavors of a product available and fewer brand names you’re familiar with. Suppliers are continuing to shift back to mainstream production of their core product lines just to keep store shelves stocked. I think that’s what we’re going to continue to see—the reduction of customized and specialty items.

For retailers, they have a prioritized the focus on ramping up their e-commerce strategy to relieve the pressure on their stores and service more consumers online. This poses a particular challenge when retailers have limited IT resources and a need to set up a new item supplied from a new foodservice manufacturer that is trying to divert their products to the retail channel to support the demand. And in some cases unfortunately, foodservice suppliers maybe unable to redirect some of their products due to the fact they are not marked for individual sale with the traditional U.P.C. and other retailer requirements.

FST: Is there a better way that food companies, retailers and suppliers can work together during this pandemic?

Fernandez: Food companies can improve the way they work together if they focus on supply chain visibility and data quality. Visibility is key as suppliers are ramping up production on those mainstream products and trying to get them to the proper locations when retailers need them. That’s where I would look at GS1 Standards such as the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) for product identification and the advance ship notice (ASN) transaction, which lets a partner know when something is ready and being shipped. Global data standards enable the visibility to what delivery a retailer can expect and when, and being able to account for that inventory once it’s inside the DC [distribution center] location so that they can update an online platform. This can help ensure that a retailer has accurate information for the consumer and ability minimize the substitutions that can occur.

The second piece is the data quality aspect—making sure we have the right information around those core items that we are trying to keep stocked on the shelves for consumers who are purchasing those items today. The retail grocery and foodservice industries have been working on making product data more complete and accurate for a number of years, but we’ve seen a heightened focus on it now, knowing that consumers are relying on digital information to be correct since they cannot see the product in person right now. Expanding the data set for the consumer is critical.

FST: What is GS1 US doing right now to help customers better navigate today’s environment?

Fernandez: GS1 US is helping trading partners work with the capabilities they have to implement greater supply chain visibility, improve data quality and ramp up e-commerce operations. Depending on what was already implemented by the manufacturer or retailer, we’re looking at how we can leverage existing capabilities to help partners work together more efficiently to meet demand. How we can help connect the physical product and the digital data, knowing how important that is online right now, not only for trading partners but also for consumers?

One example of how GS1 Standards can be extended is if a retailer is looking to shorten their supply chain and purchase from a local farm. Standards provide a blueprint for supply chain partners to work together in a consistent way. We want to help these companies leverage and extend the standards instead of proprietary systems and abandoning useful processes for item setup, data exchange and point of sale checkout. Those are the types of discussions that we’re having—how GS1 US members can extend the standards that lead to operational efficiency and more easily bring in new partners to help fulfill demand.

Randy Fields, Repositrak
Retail Food Safety Forum

The Fresh Food Supply Chain and Product Safety

By Randy Fields
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Randy Fields, Repositrak

Attend the Food Safety Supply Chain Conference, June 5–6, 2017 in Rockville, MD | LEARN MOREFresh foods are critically important to grocery retailers because these categories help create a point of differentiation from competitors. Store operators highlight the fresh sections in ads, promote the categories with in-store signage and now support the departments digitally and through social media. This isn’t to say the center store dry grocery items aren’t marketed, but they don’t get the advertising and promotional love that the produce, meat, dairy, deli, bakery and floral areas receive.

Given this focus, retailers and their suppliers work diligently to ensure the safety of the fresh products offered. They know that one slipup in produce or the deli can wreck the company’s reputation for months or longer. This is particularly true for the many fresh products that don’t have a brand standing behind them to share the impact (or blame).

Ask retail food safety directors where they spend most of their time and the answer 90+ times out of 100 is in the fresh areas. There are simply more things that can potentially go wrong in fresh and less that can go wrong with dry grocery. Sure there is the occasional ingredient issue, but the center store doesn’t have to worry about spoilage or even packaging problems now that nearly everything is tamper proof.

The bioterrorism act mandates that each link in the supply chain knows where their ingredients or product came from and where it was distributed. Recently, much effort has gone into developing traceability technologies and processes with the produce supply chain taking the lead. Growers and their trading partners are piecing together systems that allow practitioners to follow each batch of product through to the retail store, but the operative phrase is “piecing together.” Very few technologies can provide complete farm-to-fork traceability without standard product identification codes used by all participants in the supply chain. When a participant does not use the standard product identifier, visibility to the path of a product ends.

On the regulation front, the seven FSMA rules move the emphasis of the FDA from detection and response to prevention, which impacts both fresh and shelf-stable products. On a practical level, however, compliance with the rules is often more challenging for fresh products because of their limited shelf life. Also, some of the rules apply specifically to produce, meaning retailers and their produce suppliers need to pay special attention to preventing foodborne illness in the department.

At the recent Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Orlando, Bob Whitaker, Ph.D., the trade group’s chief science & technology officer, and Jim Gorny, Ph.D., vice president, Food Safety & Technology, both emphasized the importance of communicating each retailer’s and supplier’s compliance with the FSMA regulations to the consumer. The North American Meat Institute, International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association and other trade groups representing the marketers of fresh products have also been very active in helping both retailers and suppliers comply with the new regulations.

Beyond FSMA, retailers and their fresh foods suppliers need to do more work to not only ensure a safer supply chain, but to let consumers know they are working on food safety every day. Transparency needs to extend throughout the supply chain so suppliers and carriers can report on any potential safety issue from the farm to the checkout stand, because retailers are requiring more support from suppliers and more documentation for each load received. And, audits need to be periodically conducted to ensure accepted industry best practices are being followed.

Technology is helping the food safety process, especially in the fresh area, by organizing documentation for FSMA compliance and by providing supply chain transparency. The systems now available integrate all product and vendor information into a retailer’s ordering systems to ensure every requirement is met before a purchase is completed. They also send out alerts when additional details are required and they confirm that each lot shipped adheres to accepted best practices for food safety.

At the end of the day, all items sold in a supermarket or online must be safe for the consumer. The challenge is somewhat bigger with fresh foods than it is with dry grocery, so retailers and their suppliers must work that much harder to ensure the safety of products sold to their customers. A combination of accurate document management, compliance audits and traceability technology is now the most likely scenario to accomplish this goal.

Amazon Fresh

Amazon to Grab Grocery Business, May Open Stores

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Amazon Fresh

Amazon may have plans to expand its grocery delivery service into convenience stores. According to The Wall Street Journal, the retailer may open convenience stores and offer curbside pickup to Amazon Fresh customers (the online grocery delivery service). Amazon Fresh currently offers traditional grocery items such as packaged goods, beverages, condiments, baking goods, seasonings and pasta, along with perishable items such as cheese, eggs, frozen foods, and meat and seafood to consumers in certain cities. Based on location, consumers would also be able to order items from local retailers. Through the new reported expansion, Amazon Fresh customers would order shorter shelf life food items via their mobile devices for in-store pick up, and items with a longer shelf life would be available for online order and delivery. It’s possible that Amazon will open one of these locations in Seattle within the next few weeks, according to the Journal.