Novel tech predicted to have significant impact on food safety

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Key innovators in the food safety technology market according to Frost & Sullivan
Key innovators in the food safety technology market according to Frost & Sullivan

Related tags: Food safety, Food

Opportunities for food safety technologies are expected in the next five to six years in smartphone mobile applications, rapid pathogen detector sensors, hands-free wearable devices, and nanocomposite packaging, according to Frost & Sullivan.

Frost & Sullivan’s analysis summarizes technologies and emerging opportunities enabling food safety of dairy, eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, ready to eat and frozen foods.

The next five years will see substantial growth as the food sector tries to meet escalating demand for high-quality, affordable products, according to the findings​.

It includes primary and supplementary technologies such as those for pathogen detection at various processing steps, intervention technologies for microbial reduction, packaging developments, robotics and automation, electronic traceability, sensors and mobile applications.

Arpita Mukherjee, technical insights industry analyst, said nanomaterials and nano-based technologies are attracting interest for rapid pathogen testing.

“Sustainable technologies such as edible coatings or edible pathogen detection composition will gain industry attention beyond 2022.

“Advances in electronics and software application – involving electronic traceability, smartphones and mobile applications – will also have significant effect in food safety application in long term."

Swiss Re recall report

Meanwhile, recalls per year in the US have almost doubled since 2002 until 2014, according to a separate report from Swiss Re​.

swiss re trade
Swiss Re: Based on Ercsey-Ravasz et al 2012 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037810

The insurance provider analysed publically available food recall data in the US and said the increase was influenced by regulatory changes and an increasingly globalised supply chain.

A total of 52% of all food recalls cost the affected US companies more than $10m each and losses of more than $100m are possible.

Companies will need to devote more resources to risk management, improve quality assurance, develop a recall plan and prepare for crisis communication to manage recalls.

"Food recalls can be caused by something as simple as a labelling error on the packaging, or as complex as a microbial contamination somewhere along a vast globalised supply chain,"​ said Roland Friedli, risk engineer at Swiss Re and co-author of the report

Swiss Re works with insurers and the food industry to design products based on long-term loss data and expertise in risk management.

Short term challenge

Frost & Sullivan said confusion over standards and regulations has made it difficult to establish harmonized global food safety norms, creating uncertainties on the optimal set of products to adopt.

This, along with high cost of food safety technologies, is a major market challenge in the short term but will subside in the next three to 10 years with further technology advances, according to the analysis.  

The changing nature of pathogens due to mutation, and the risk of unknown contamination from indefinite sources, means robust technologies are required on the supply and demand side.

Primary technologies such as physical separation of contaminants, thermal and non-thermal interventions, packaging and protection coatings, biosensors, and automated food processing are generally accepted by industry.

Frost & Sullivan said the need for food safety drives growth opportunities in different segments of the value chain, including production, processing, packing, distribution/transportation, storage, and preparation.

Highly publicized cases of foodborne illness have created public awareness on the need for improved food safety, said Mukherjee.

Companies across the food supply chain are thus looking to adopt novel technologies to obtain third-party certification to demonstrate their compliance with legal food safety requirements to promote customer confidence and brand value.”

Technology providers are mainly concentrated in the US and Europe due many multinational companies being in these regions.

However, the industry is rapidly growing in Asia-Pacific, mainly due to China’s upcoming tougher version of food laws and Japan’s increasing concerns over large food imports by the country. 

The group also referenced public-private partnerships with an aim to increase food safety awareness and develop solutions to combat foodborne illnesses such as DuPont and Eurofins’ work​. 

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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