It’s hard to overstate the importance of keeping food safe and healthy. A misstep or contamination may sometimes happen along the complex food manufacturing and delivery process, even with proper food safety practices. This is a major concern both for consumers and for businesses in the food industry.
The good news is that food safety technology advancements make it easier to monitor and improve quality. Let’s go over some of the latest developments in food safety tech.
Robotics & Automation in Food Packaging
Robotics and automation are some of the most important advancements in food safety technology. Although companies in the food industry work hard to set up efficient safety protocols, where there are humans, there’s also human error. Using robots creates more precise processes with fewer contamination risks.
Robots can keep workers safe when food production and packaging involve extreme temperatures, harmful chemicals, and other hazards. For example, robots can handle carving meat from difficult cuts and thus reduce the chance of injury for workers.
Moving on to food sorting and inspection, automated processes that minimize human intervention improve both hygiene and accuracy. Robots can handle tasks like filling, sealing, and labeling containers with high consistency.
Internet of Things (IoT) in Food Safety
The term Internet of Things (IoT) describes a network of interconnected objects that can communicate both between themselves and with the cloud. The food industry uses IoT technology to supervise all the steps of food production, manufacturing, and delivery, from farm or field to consumer.
For example, manufacturers can use IoT sensors to verify food safety. These sensors track factors like humidity and temperature, which affect food conditions. IoT sensors can also tell the location of food products throughout the manufacturing process. With all the steps watched and controlled, it’s much easier to spot contaminants or other issues that can harm food quality.
Blockchain Technology in Supply Chain Management
Commonly associated with cryptocurrency, blockchain technology is also on the list of important food safety technology advancements. The blockchain is an immutable transaction-recording ledger that allows users to share data with uncompromised transparency and security.
The food industry uses blockchain technology to create a precise, traceable record of the entire food supply chain. This end-to-end record includes the food’s origin, processing, and distribution, along with any quality issues that may arise in the process.
Thanks to blockchain records, companies can quickly locate any sources of contamination or compromised quality and, if necessary, recall the product immediately and reduce the number of people it reaches. Blockchain technology in the food industry can also verify product authenticity and prevent fraud.
Artificial Intelligence in Quality Control & Food Safety Assurance
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are modernizing food safety practices. Artificial intelligence can analyze and process data, predict outcomes, and make decisions.
For instance, AI algorithms can dissect weather patterns and analyze images from cameras and sensors. This can help detect any missteps in production and alert companies to safety or quality concerns. Manufacturers can then catch problems earlier and address them more effectively.
The chief strength of AI is its ability to process vast amounts of data quickly and spot patterns. AI can:
- Monitor storage conditions
- Track information on raw materials that arrive from suppliers
- Dissect factors that impact a product’s shelf life
- Ensure a facility’s regulatory compliance
AI streamlines food inspection, making it quicker, more consistent, and more accurate.
3D Printing in Food Production
3D printing is a method of using digital designs to create physical objects. This advanced technology also made it into the food industry, first in NASA applications and now in commercial processes.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, deposits edible material layers to make food items. This technology can create complex food shapes with the exact desired nutritional values, texture, and composition. For example, 3D printing can create softer, more easily chewable foods for those who can’t process harder textures.
The highly controlled nature of 3D printing eliminates errors and enhances safety in food manufacturing. This novel technology also reduces waste and can make the food production process more sustainable.
Advancements in Food X-Ray Technology
Efficient and versatile, modern food x-ray machines can detect different contaminants like stone, metal, bone fragments, and plastics. Using advanced x-ray technology can help food manufacturers avoid massive recalls and costly liability lawsuits.
Apart from ensuring that foods are safe for consumption, food x-ray machines can also help with quality control. X-raying foods can identify defects and breakage, detect improper fill levels, spot broken or missing products, and check packaging integrity.
X-raying isn’t a new method of food inspection, but modern x-ray systems have evolved to become some of the most important food safety technology advancements. Today, these systems are highly sensitive to both metallic and other types of minuscule contaminants. When coupled with a rejection conveyor, they require minimal operating effort since the system identifies and removes contaminated packages automatically. They use convenient, customizable software with real-time imaging and detailed logs.
Advancements in Metal Detectors
Like x-ray inspection systems, metal detectors have a long track record in the food industry. Metal detectors are more affordable than x-ray systems and can be a great option for food manufacturers that deal mostly with metallic contaminants and use non-metallic packaging for products.
A metal detector can detect metal hazards like bits of processing equipment, such as machine parts or loose screws, that fall into consumable products. They work on both ferrous metals (like steel and iron) and non-ferrous metals (like copper and aluminum).
Modern metal detectors keep up with production flow and can potentially scan hundreds of items per minute. Advanced reject mechanisms can remove metal-contaminated items without slowing the production line.
Benefits of Technology Adoption in Food Manufacturing
Food safety is a top priority both for public health and for manufacturers who want to make sure they follow food safety compliance regulations and protect their consumers.
Although food inspection costs money and can impact food prices, technological innovations in food safety may actually reduce costs by making it easier and quicker to scan food products. Evolving technology for food safety dramatically lowers major errors like food contamination. This can prevent both risks to the consumer and concerns like costly recalls, harm to the company’s reputation, and liability lawsuits for the manufacturer.
Apart from enhanced food safety, innovative food technology also comes with other benefits:
- Streamlined production. Advanced technology makes food production processes more efficient and cost-effective, from growing and harvesting to packaging and distribution.
- Higher sustainability. With innovative technology, it’s easier to track the environmental effects of food production and choose less wasteful, more eco-friendly processes.
- Improved transparency. Advanced technology, like the blockchain, makes it easier for businesses in the food industry to make sure they’re sourcing ingredients from ethical, sustainable suppliers.
- Better food quality. New technologies, such as modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), can extend shelf life and keep foods in prime condition longer.
Explore TDI Packsys’s Cutting-Edge Food Safety Solutions
At TDI Packsys, we stay at the forefront of food safety technology advancements and understand the importance of food safety. Our precise inspection systems and innovative packaging automation solutions help keep up with the highest quality standards in food production.
Our products can help your food industry business become more competitive, efficient, and compliant. Contact us to learn more.