In the vast and complex food industry, safety mistakes are among every involved business’s worst nightmare. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses each year, with 128,000 being hospitalized and 3,000 perishing from their condition. Any businesses determined to be involved, from produce growers to restaurants, can take hits financially from penalties and loss of reputation. 

Businesses have turned to technology to maximize their food safety and sanitation efforts. Today’s article covers two significant ways technology keeps food workers and consumers safe and sound. 

Traceability: The Backbone for Food Safety and Sanitation 

Traceability in the food industry tracks all the steps taken in food production up and down the supply chain. Production includes everything from raw ingredients to the final product’s arrival at the supermarket. Traceability is essential in food safety and sanitation, as it allows producers and government agencies to backtrack any foodborne illnesses or contamination to their source. The affected product or products can be promptly removed to halt consumer harm.  

Documenting food products, from their ingredients to distribution, is vital for traceability. The food industry uses several technologies to achieve this goal. 

Efficient food tracking with Barcode and RFID 

Scanning technologies like barcode scanners and RFID readers help companies track the sometimes huge number of raw ingredients and final products typically used in food production. 

For example, workers at a centralized produce processing plant can use industrial tablets with built-in readers to scan and upload each item’s tracking information to the plant’s enterprising resource planning (ERP) software. This more automated process eliminates human error in recording data while allowing a real-time view of supply and demand. Product spoilage can be quickly traced back to its source and dealt with.

Secure food traceability with Blockchain 

Like ERP, blockchain is another digital means of tracking food ingredients and products across the supply chain. Item information is gathered similarly using scanners and readers or more exotic means like the Internet of Things

Blockchain is believed to be a more secure means of traceability thanks to features such as decentralized networks, tamper-proof records, and transparent record views. Nestle and Walmart Global Tech are two companies that use blockchain for food traceability. 

Food Safety and Sanitation Through Preservation 

In the food industry, food preservation maintains the nutritional value, texture, and flavor of the original products and produce while significantly slowing down and even stopping their spoilage. While the exact methods vary, they usually fall into one of the following two categories. 

Protection Through Automated Disinfection 

Bacteria, viruses, and fungi spoil fresh produce by eating it from the surface inward. Disinfectant chemicals, ultraviolet (UV-C) lighting, and ozone gas are three methods used to kill the various germs on contact. 

Unfortunately, the methods also harm food workers, especially in higher concentrations. Disinfectant chemicals and UV-C lighting can only be applied to produce before packaging. Food can spoil en route to its destination. And while ozone gas dispersion systems can be used before packaging and en route, they are also expensive.

Automated systems are being developed for all three disinfectant methods. They would be stationed at any significant spot on the supply chain where spoilage could occur (examples: food transport vehicle, production facility, and warehouse). Disinfection would be handled by a rugged mini PC or remotely via an industrial tablet. Either method would ensure employee safety and well-being. 

Freezing Produce Saves Lives

Freezing food inhibits or stalls produce decomposition by turning the water in plant and animal cells into ice. Methods used include air-blast freezing, contact or convection freezing, and cryogenic freezing.

Unfortunately, when water freezes, it expands and creates ice crystals, damaging the produce. For example, when a frozen tomato is thawed, it becomes mushy and watery. The freezing methods mentioned earlier aim to minimize ice crystal formation while still stalling decomposition.

Freezing along the food industry’s “cold chain” is closely monitored to ensure minimal damage while continuing to prevent spoilage as the products are shipped to their destinations. The equipment and electrical systems are built from the ground up to withstand extreme conditions. Industrial parts aid the monitoring computer in withstanding the shocks and impacts from road and rail travel. The fanless design of the computers ensures no dust particles or, worse, get blown into the sterile storage units. And so on.

Serve Food Safety and Sanitation With Cybernet Computers

Food safety and sanitation are essential in food production, as problems like spoilage harm consumers. Companies are turning to technological means like traceability and freezing to prevent or minimize such problems. 

Are you looking for suitable computers to monitor and direct your food safety and sanitation efforts? Contact the team at Cybernet Manufacturing! Team members will happily go over the unique features of our industrial computer lineup, from the hardened glass screen of the industrial panel All-In-One to the rugged components used in the industrial mini PC. 

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