Over time, the food industry has faced new challenges. COVID-19 increased regulations, and globalization has forced food operators to adapt in ways they never had to. Navigating the complexities of food management requires expertise and extensive training in safety practices and quality control.
An increase in consumer desire for traceability has also proved challenging, particularly for smaller operators with minimal resources. Unfortunately, many in the food service industry have struggled and failed to meet these requirements.
Developments in technology have provided a solution for those seeking to streamline the entire supply chain process and meet complex requirements. Successful participants in the food industry have utilized an optimized software solution that alleviates the pressure to comply with regulations and meet consumer needs.
The benefits of these solutions cannot be understated, as many of them have saved struggling restaurants and grocers during one of the more challenging times in history.
Read ahead for a comprehensive guide to food management systems and their advantages.
What is Food Management and How is it Helpful?
Food management is an extensive operation that entails the supervision of food picking, preparation, exhibition, and conservation.
The food industry requires a variety of workers, inspectors, and managers to oversee every part of the operation to make certain that each item is quality, nutritious, and safe to eat. It is also necessary to closely supervise the process to comply with local and FDA-based regulations.
The primary goal of food management is to make certain that every item sold to restaurants, grocers, and businesses is high-quality and meets safety standards.
Because of this important responsibility, food inspectors need to make sure preparation spaces are sanitized and contamination-free, as well as ensure that all packaged items are stored properly at the appropriate temperatures throughout transport.
Software solutions have provided a way for operators to streamline and automate food service management tasks throughout the supply chain.
The top benefits of utilizing a food management system include-
1. Navigate Complex Rules
Violating food safety regulations is no longer a minor offense. Processors need to comply with complex regulations to stay open and avoid penalties, including the FSMA, or the Food Safety Modernization Act.
The FSMA is gradually transforming the United States' food safety system by focusing on preventing foodborne illnesses, rather than responding to them. The FSMA consists of six major rules, including-
- Preventative Control Rule- Each food facility must pinpoint any known physical hazards related to food and then outline which preventative controls are required to mitigate any risk.
- Produce Safety Rule- Establishes science-based standards for safe growing, harvesting, packaging, and holding of food items. Also requires that farms prevent contamination by implementing water quality testing and more.
- Foreign Supplier Verification Program Rule- Food suppliers must verify that foreign suppliers are complying with FDA-based requirements.
- Accredited Third-Party Certification Rule- Establishes a voluntary program for third-party certification organizations to be accredited to perform safety audits.
- Sanitary Transportation Rule- Creates new requirements for everyone involved in logistics to ensure food safety standards and protection.
- Intentional Adulteration Rule- Requires facilities to implement a written Food Defense Plan that identifies strategies to handle vulnerabilities within any food processing facility.
Because these complex and meticulous regulations only relate to certain facilities/processors, navigating them can be very challenging. Operators have adjusted by utilizing an automated, optimized software solution to gather real-time data, streamline inventory management and logistics, and ensure compliance.
A software solution can also help to pinpoint safety issues before the food items ever reach the consumer, which helps to further ensure compliance and prevent a potential outbreak.
2. Monitor Food Data to Mitigate Risk
Monitoring food temperatures, packaging, and humidity levels are essential requirements in food management. Operators need to comply with regulations, maintain customers, and prevent contamination by ensuring food is stored properly at the right temperature during transport.
Before the development of modern technology systems, many operators had no choice but to put their trust in transporters and suppliers to perform their jobs properly. Nowadays, technology systems combine software, built-in temperature monitoring devices, and mobile tablets to collect and store valuable real-time food data from any location.
These technology systems allow operators to streamline logistics, ensure their suppliers are following safety rules, and have greater visibility into the supply chain and processing facilities.
RFID or Radio Frequency Identification is a newer data collection system that identifies food items through low-power radio waves. This allows operators to track food inventory and streamline the re-ordering process.
Over time, using these systems helps to save money by preventing over-ordering, spoilage, and food waste. It also holds everyone accountable by requiring employees to go to the location of the RFID tag and check its temperature. This helps to prevent inaccurate temperature readings, guesswork, fraud, and spoilage from occurring.
3. Streamline the Food Supply Chain
Because software solutions can integrate with mobile devices, managers can monitor their food data from any location. Authorized individuals can update inventory, address suspicious activity, or pinpoint inefficiencies both on-site and off-site.
Automated data collection allows everyone to know what's happening in real-time, resulting in improved communication and collaboration among all involved stakeholders.
Instant notifications are sent if there is out-of-the-ordinary data input, allowing managers to address inventory and logistics problems before they become more serious.
Food quality and safety data are monitored in real-time, which helps to improve traceability in the supply chain. As a result of streamlining the food management system, consumer satisfaction increases, food items are of higher quality, and safety requirements are met. There is also more assurance that involved stakeholders are complying with FSMA or other local regulations.
In conclusion, here are the key points to remember about food management solutions and its benefits-
- Food management is a comprehensive and intricate procedure involving the supervision of food harvesting, selection, presentation, and preservation.
- The primary purpose of implementing a food management system is to ensure food items are quality and safe before consumer consumption. Most importantly, a food management system helps operators comply with FDA-based regulations.
- The top benefits of food management systems include- helps to navigate complex regulations, provides a way to monitor food data to mitigate risk, and streamlines the entire supply chain and management process.