Tag Archives: supply chain management

Sasan Amini, Clear Labs

2020 Expectations: More Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Technology Advances in Food Safety Testing

By Maria Fontanazza
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Sasan Amini, Clear Labs

2018 and 2019 were the years of the “blockchain buzz”. As we enter the new decade, we can expect a stronger focus on how technology and data advances will generate more actionable use for the food industry. Food Safety Tech has highlighted many perspectives from subject matter experts in the industry, and 2020 will be no different. Our first Q&A of the year features Sasan Amini, CEO of Clear Labs, as he shares his thoughts on tech improvements and the continued rise consumer expectations for transparency.

Food Safety Tech: As we look to the year ahead, where do you see artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain advancing in the food industry?

Sasan Amini: AI, ML, and blockchain are making headway in the food industry through advances in supply chain management, food sorting and anomaly detection, and tracing the origin of foodborne outbreaks. On the regulatory side, FDA’s focus on its New Era of Smarter Food Safety will most likely catalyze the adoption of the above mentioned technologies. On the private side, a few of the companies leading the charge on these advancements are IBM and Google, working in partnership with food manufacturers and retailers across the world.

Along those same lines, another area that we expect to grow is the use of AI and ML in tandem with robotics—and the value of new troves of data that they collect, analyze and distribute. For example, robotics for the use of environmental monitoring of potential contaminants, sorting techniques and sterilization are valuable because they ensure that end products have been through thorough testing—and they give us even more information about the lifecycle of that food than ever before.

At the end of the day, data is only valuable when you can transform it into actionable insights in real-time with real-world applications, and we expect to see more and more of this type of data usage in the year ahead.

FST: Where do you think food safety testing technologies will stand out? What advancements can the industry expect?

Amini: In 2020, technology is going to begin to connect itself along the entire supply chain, bringing together disparate pieces and equipping supply chain professionals with action-oriented data. From testing advances that improve speed, accuracy and depth of information to modular software solutions to promote transparency, the food safety industry is finally finding its footing in a data-driven sea of technological and regulatory advances.

Right now, legacy testing solutions are limited in their ability to lead food safety and quality professionals to the source of problems, providing insights on tracking recurring issues, hence having a faster response time, and being able to anticipate problems before they occur based on a more data heavy and objective risk assessment tools. This leaves the industry in a reactive position for managing and controlling their pathogen problems.

Availability of higher resolution food safety technologies that provide deeper and more accurate information and puts them in context for food safety and quality professionals provides the food industry a unique opportunity to resolve the incidents in a timely fashion with higher rigour and confidence. This is very in-line with the “Smarter Tools and Approaches” that FDA described in their new approach to food safety.

FST: How are evolving consumer preferences changing how food companies must do business from a strategic as well as transparency perspective?

Amini: Consumers are continuing to get savvier about what’s in their food and where it comes from. Research suggests that about one in five U.S. adults believe they are food allergic, while only 1 in 20 are estimated to have physician-diagnosed food allergies. This discrepancy is important for food companies to consider when making decisions about transparency into their products. Although the research on food allergies continues to evolve, what’s important to note today is that consumers want to know the details. Radical transparency can be a differentiator in a competitive market, especially for consumers looking for answers to improve their health and nutrition.

Consumers are also increasingly interested in personalization, due in part to the rise in new digital health and testing companies looking to deliver on the promise of personalized nutrition and wellness. Again, more transparency will be key.

FST: Additional comments are welcome.

Amini: Looking ahead, we expect that smaller, multi-use, and hyper-efficient tools with reduced physical footprints will gain market share. NGS is a great example of this, as it allows any lab to gather millions of data points about a single sample without needing to run it multiple times. It moves beyond the binary yes-no response of traditional testing, and lets you get much more done, with far less. Such wealth of information not only increases the confidence about the result, but can also be mined to generate more actionable insights for interventions and root cause analysis.

This “multi-tool” will be driven by a combination of advanced software, robotics, and testing capabilities, creating a food safety system that is entirely connected, driven by data, and powerfully accurate.

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Top 10 Food Safety Articles of 2019

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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#10

Lessons Learned from Intentional Adulteration Vulnerability Assessments (Part I)

#9

Lead in Spices

#8

Three Practices for Supply Chain Management in the Food Industry

#7

Changes in the Food Safety Industry: Face Them or Ignore Them?

#6

How Technology is Elevating Food Safety Practices & Protocols

#5

Five Tips to Add Food Fraud Prevention To Your Food Defense Program

#4

2019 Food Safety and Transparency Trends

#3

Sustainability Strategies for the Food Industry

#2

Is Food-Grade always Food-Safe?

#1

E. Coli Update: FDA Advises Consumers to Avoid All Romaine Lettuce Harvested in Salinas, California

Melody Ge, Kestrel Management
FST Soapbox

Supply Chain Management 101

By Melody Ge
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Melody Ge, Kestrel Management

Supply chain management is becoming more and more relevant to small and entrepreneurial food businesses, particularly related to FSMA requirements that are required to be fully implemented by this September. To meet these requirements, it is important for small businesses to understand:

  • Applicable FSMA requirements
  • How to develop a supplier approval program
  • What challenges companies may encounter and tips to overcome them
  • How to find an appropriate starting point to develop a supply chain management program

Supply Chain Management Program

1. Receiving facility: A facility that is subject to preventive controls and supply-chain program and that manufacturers/processes raw materials or ingredients that it receives from a supplier.
2. Supplier: The establishment that manufacturers/processes the food, raises the animal, or grows the food that is provided to a receiving facility without further manufacturing/processing by another establishment, except for further manufacturing/processing that consists solely of the addition of labeling or similar activity of a de minimis nature.
Food manufacturers need to develop and implement a supply chain management program, including supply chain preventive control, to control those potential hazards identified that shall be controlled by the suppliers when receiving all raw materials and ingredients. As defined in the actual FDA regulation, a supply management program will only be considered as a preventive control when it is linked to a potential food safety hazard in the raw materials and incoming ingredients. It is the supply-chain-applied control (21 CFR 117.3). As a receiving facility, you have the right to ask your suppliers for all related information associated with the food safety hazards that you identified from your own food safety plan.

What should be in your supply chain management program or supply-chain-applied control?

  1. There needs to be a series of credentials for approval. This can be determined by you, depending on the hazards and product risks. For example, a third-party audit result or a certification from a reliable audit can serve this purpose.A few questions can be considered, including whether suppliers have a recall plan, whether suppliers have an existing food safety plan to control hazards, or whether suppliers have a non-conforming products control plan. Often these can be checked and verified when a third-party audit or third-party accredited audit is conducted. Once a supply chain management program becomes a preventive control, the raw materials can only be supplied by an approved supplier.
  2. Monitoring activities and verifications should be applied to those approved suppliers in your supply chain. This can be done throughout the business history and supplier performance. You need to demonstrate how you continue monitoring the supplier approval status, and suppliers must demonstrate how their products remain guaranteed. Public records (e.g., warning letters), sample testing incoming goods, and customer audits are commonly utilized in the industry. However, in FSMA, when an approved supplier is supplying a high-risk raw material, such as one with SAHCODHA (Serious Adverse Health Consequences or Death to Humans or Animal) risks, an onsite (your own audit or third-party (accredited) audit) is required to be conducted as the verification activity. This must be completed annually unless you can provide a risk-based justification of other types validated verification activities.
  3. Afterwards, as a receiving facility, you need to consider and develop procedures for non-conforming suppliers:
  • How do you require your suppliers maintain their “approval” status in your supply chain management program throughout the business years?
  • When one approved supplier is unapproved or experiencing unexpected incidents, how do you manage back-up suppliers?
  • What criteria do back-up suppliers need to meet prior to supplying the product(s)/ingredient(s)?

Melody Ge will be presenting “What Have We Learned After FSMA Implementation?” at the 2018 Food Safety ConsortiumDifferent products will have different approaches based on facility business operations. However, one thing remains the same. The justification must ensure that potential hazards identified from the original approved supplier are controlled when a back up supplier is used.

4. Last but not least, just like all other programs and controls, records and documentation are important! Records must be kept for all parts of the supply chain management program, including plan, monitoring, verification and any corrective actions that have been conducted. These data are precious to your facility over time, as supplier performance and trending could be a strong reference to see whether adjustment or modifications should be applied to your supply chain management.

There may be challenges collecting information or approving suppliers, but never forget the intention of a supply chain management program—to control the food safety hazards of incoming goods. Your supply chain management program will allow you to demonstrate that you have made all efforts to control the hazards that could potentially arise from your supply chain.

Resource

  1. FDA FSMA Preventive Controls to Human Foods. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/fsma/ucm334115.htm
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How Digital Technology Streamlines Supply Chain Management

By Alex Bromage
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Today’s food and beverage producers must deliver to exact requirements and provide safe products of the highest quality. In an increasingly global and connected world, the emergence of new business models, such as Amazon Food and the offer of direct deliveries to consumers, is creating ever more complex supply chains for manufacturers. The number of steps between the raw ingredients and the consumer is increasing, creating new and more numerous challenges inside the production process for food and beverage manufacturers. Thus it is important to remain committed to constantly innovating and developing new services and technologies to support customers with increasing supply chain complexities. This includes systems to help track products as they enter the factory environment, when they leave the factory, and when they enter the retail distribution chain. The digitalization of management processes and services, alongside basic management processes, is playing an important role in helping food and beverage manufacturers to manage these complexities.

Learn more about keeping track of your suppliers at the Food Safety Supply Chain Conference | June 5–6, 2017 | Rockville, MD | Attend in-person or virtuallySupplier Base

The first step to keeping food safe starts before the raw ingredients enter the processing facility. The safety of raw material is so important because it impacts the end quality of the product. Pasteurization and heat treatment can only improve the product so much, and therefore the higher quality the raw ingredients, the better the final product.

Basic management processes must be in place at this stage of the supply chain, ensuring the good management of the supplier base. Working closely with customers to implement supplier framework audits that allow them to benchmark their suppliers’ performance is crucial. Through this supplier framework customers to collaborate transparently with their suppliers, encouraging the open sharing of information and traceability in the supply chain.

Production Process and Entering the Retail Distribution Chain

Increased sophistication of tools in the industry is also enabling high-level traceability at the packaging stage. This means that food and beverage manufacturers are tracking and tracing products right the way through to the consumer. One such available tool can enable food and beverage manufacturers to program their entire plant through a single data management system, and improve product traceability internally. Specifically designed for the food and beverage industry, specific software provides a user-friendly interface through which customers can control their entire operations—from raw material reception to finished packaged and palletized products. Streamlines data collection facilitates accurate data analysis to ensure that safety standards are maintained throughout the production process.

Using unique package identification technology, such as a 2-D barcode on packages, information can be processed this information and the product(s) tracked throughout the supply chain. For example, if a manufacturer were to experience a food safety issue in a certain production batch, the tool would be able to track all products in that batch and support making a recall. In addition to improving functions on a reactive basis, a reporting function, is designed to provide data to help prevent issues from happening again in the future, mitigating against food safety risks.

As new business models continue to emerge and more parties become involved in the production process, the complexity of the supply chain will only increase. Digital strategies alongside basic management processes have an increasingly important role to play in helping food and beverage manufacturers manage these complexities to ensure that their food is safe for the end consumer.