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Internet of Things (IoT)

By Chirag Bhatt, Director, Food Safety & QA

Internet of Things (IoT)Chirag Bhatt, Director, Food Safety & QA

Consumer preferences are evolving, and the food industry faces challenges to ensure safe food – Everyone wants: clean labels, natural, organic, locally grown, gluten-free, GMO-free, antibiotic-free – and the food movement is real. Food manufacturers and retailers are adapting to changing consumer demands and as a result, are enhancing their food safety protocols and technologies as well. Properly connected technology can help take food safety to the next level.

Food service establishments (restaurants, grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores) are becoming more proactive in protecting their brand. The idea of keeping any happenings limited to the awareness of only the few that were involved is a thing of the past. Forward-thinking companies realize that social media has changed the landscape, and cause company-wide experiments.

In recent years, digital technology has connected sensors and devices, created new business models, transformed how we communicate and helped grow our economies. We hear that 70 percent of the potential value of digital technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) is in B2B (business-to-business) applications.

How can we utilize IoT-enabled food safety systems for evolution?

Measure and Monitor

Managing food safety is a big challenge for everyone in the industry. Cumbersome and manual processes restrict corporate or regional communications. Collected data is hard to share, analyze and act upon if not digital.

• Were the ice machine and soda dispensing area properly sanitized last night?
• Was the seafood special cooked to and held at the correct temperature?
• During that recall, did we destroy/return the suspect sauce?

In recent years, digital technology has connected sensors and devices, created new business models, transformed how we communicate and helped grow our economies

• Did the manager provide a corrective action plan to the regulatory agency?
• Our supplier was on the federal warning letter list. Did they resolve it?

Achieve better compliance, greater operational efficiency, enhanced food quality, and higher guest satisfaction.

Influence and Lead

With digital technology, we can identify future risks and proactively resolve issues before problems occur. Data from monitoring equipment in your facility— and sensors in facilities around the world—can be communicated in real-time. Trends, patterns and risk predictions can only help us for better decisions and drive business strategies. We all know that predictive is better than the proactive (and reactive) style of doing things in the food safety world.

Partner and Grow

We obtain a lot of data, but we don’t know what to do with it. The key to success is to translate and analyze the collected data into actionable insights, identify trends and focus your resources on the problems at hand. Use the right business partners and providers. Verify your performances to ideal resource allocations and reduce operational cost. Strategic alliances and forward-thinking technology – when executed properly, can only enhance your food safety management system.

Key Benefits

IoT and “smart” connected devices have successfully permeated the consumer market in recent years.

• Connectivity within the kitchen: between front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) employees

• IoT monitors the equipment that cooks, cleans or stores food

• IoT and smart digital equipment can measure cooking equipment- fryers, grills, ovens, etc. whereby the circuit boards provide prompts to take action (filter cooking oil, temperature, etc.)

• IoT provides data outside of the restaurant/store to compare with another

• IoT collects data to drive the proper distribution of resources for analytic info for future use/procurement

• IoT provides real-time information about compliance with one’s standard operating procedures using daily/weekly/ monthly checklists and schedules

• IoT and combination of data provides cost savings and enhanced efficiency

• IoT reduces food waste while producing consistent food items

• IoT enforces standard operating procedures, increases employee morale, simplify manager’s jobs

• IoT enables you to personalize promotions by integrating customer data, including purchase history and geographic location, with loyalty programs

• IoT enables customers to place orders and pay their bill from a digital kiosk or mobile device

• IoT enables you to monitor inventory levels in real time, while advanced analytics help you forecast demand

• IoT Sensors can be used to detect the presence of customers at or near the restaurant/store and deliver promotional offers via their mobile devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to improve food safety practices vividly. Automated data collection will yield labor cost savings. For HACCP, critical control points can move upstream to food safety and asset management and drive down operating costs.

In conclusion: The Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept that everything will one day (soon, if not already) be connected . Remember when computers became networked and connected with the internet? Remember when you were the first one to have a three and a half inch drive on your PC?

Savvy operators and food safety professionals who understand changing food safety regulatory demands are driving the adoption of these technologies that ease the transition towards ongoing compliance. Food safety technology is changing! Are you changing with them?

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