Enthusiastic sushi lovers often notice a distinct difference in the taste of their salmon sashimi plates depending on where they live in the United States. Those who live in California or Hawaii enjoy a higher quality of seafood due to their proximity to the ocean.
Those in the Midwest or South may notice their seafood doesn't taste as quite as fresh, regardless of how up-scale the eatery is. Transporting food and food storage at long distances comes at a price, regardless of how well items are packaged and kept free of contamination.
Effective transportation management is a critical requirement to ensure consumer safety and satisfaction. People can't always control that they don't live near an ocean full of fresh fish, but participants across the supply chain can improve their storage and transportation practices to ensure safe and quality items are delivered on-time. Making systemic improvements to food transport is critical to prevent food contamination and price increases.
Read ahead to learn the best practices for improving food transport across the global supply chain.
Solutions for Improving Food Transport
Compared to other products, foods are some of the most challenging items to transport. They must be stored properly and delivery must be timely to avoid spoilage/loss. Temperature controls and packaging to protect fragile items are other concerns requiring special attention. Driver shortages, environmental concerns, and compliance with food safety standards set by the FDA have also caused challenges in the supply chain.
COVID-19 has put stress on an already overwhelmed network by increasing regulations, affecting demand, and causing a fluctuation in prices. In totality, food safety failures cost approximately 2 billion annually while potentially causing sickness, contamination, and even loss of life.
To address these issues, food carriers around the world are utilizing new solutions to replace old-fashioned and inefficient practices. These include-
1. Utilize Monitoring Tools
To keep food safe during transport, many businesses are utilizing connected devices to track status updates and delivery details. Big data and machine learning technologies are harnessed to gain real-time visibility into transit information and resolve problems more quickly.
For example, businesses are installing sensors or loT-enabled technology to track items, monitor temperature, and check on the humidity conditions inside the transport vehicle in real-time.
This allows decision-makers to pinpoint a concern quickly before the food item has become contaminated. Monitoring tools are a preventative solution to help mitigate risk and gain full visibility into food transport data.
2. Better Training for Participants
Participants in the supply and logistics chain must understand FDA-imposed guidelines and rules. Staff must be trained regularly, along with any applicable partners in the supply chain.
A company that works with a third-party operation should gain visibility into their policies and training materials to make certain their standards align with the company. Unfortunately, it's impossible in a global food supply chain to monitor everyone's training materials and policies.
However, businesses can do as much research as possible to ensure that their partners are training employees appropriately. They can also look within to make certain they are meeting compliance and doing their part.
3. Perform Regular Audits
Audits allow stakeholders to ensure activities and processes are streamlined and all participants are complying with standards and regulations. Maintaining an audit trail and performing regular audits are preventive measures to protect the company and avoid food contamination.
An audit shouldn't just be used to ensure the quality and safety of food items. Auditors need to review all of the technologies, processes, activities, and participants involved to see where improvements can be made. Questions to ask should include-
- Can an item be tracked in real-time from shipment to delivery?
- Is the business able to prevent a good safety concern before it causes a problem?
- Can the business pinpoint when a logistics issue is happening and resolve it in real-time?
- Does the company have faith in its suppliers and third-party organizations that it is working with?
3. Proper Temperature Controls
Unfortunately, some businesses aren't well trained in managing their food items' temperatures during transit. There is a certain method to store and transport an item to avoid contamination or other food safety problems. Experts have shown that under some conditions, a single bacterium can multiply at 20-minute increments.
Any temperature range between 41 and 135 degrees provides opportunities for pathogens to evolve. This causes food loss, poisoning, spoilage, a ruined reputation, and a hit to the bottom line.
Decision-makers should make certain to focus on monitoring the temperature of meat, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables during transport. In particular, meat pollution is a serious problem that necessitates a more optimized temperature environment than other items.
In general, temperature-controlled food should be stored at 40 degrees or lower, though it's essential to prevent unintentional freezing. Many facilities require climate control to avoid high humidity levels. Stakeholders should make certain to research and review their suppliers and transport facilities to ensure they are practicing proper temperature controls.
This storage practice removes excess moisture from food items. This helps to prevent microorganisms from growing and causing items to decay, It also drastically slows enzyme development down.
Businesses can dehydrate items by either utilizing evaporation practices or implementing freeze-drying. Both of these processes can lighten and minimize the food item during transit until water can be added to restore the product to its original form. Dehydration is a meticulous process that requires using the proper temperatures and humidity to cook items to prevent molding.
As a benefit, reducing the size of the item through dehydration decreases the weight of the product, decreasing transportation costs.
In conclusion, here are the key takeaways to remember about improving food transport-
- In comparison to other products, food items are some of the most difficult to transport. Putting in place good food transport practices is essential to save money and avoid contamination.
- To address the various problems facing transport, many businesses are implementing new solutions to replace old and outdated practices.
- The top solutions include implementing monitoring tools, incorporating better training for all participants in the supply chain, perform regular audits, use good temperature control, and try dehydration to reduce contamination and save money.