Special Edition: Track & Trace

Make food safety and traceability a top priority – ArrowStream

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/ktsimage
© iStock/ktsimage

Related tags: Food safety, Supply chain management

The focus on food safety and traceability is a healthy one for industry and consumers, according to the chief solutions officer at ArrowStream.

Bill Michalski said it accelerates the need for business partners to work together and share information.

“Industry also bears the benefits in other areas. Consumers demand fresher products, more variety on the menu and transparency in allergen and nutritional information and with more fresh product comes more risk and the more controls you need in place,” ​he said.

“People focus a lot on traceability in food safety but traceability is a reactive process. FSMA is focussed on preventive – tracing documents, suppliers doing the right audits and people not buying from unapproved suppliers.

“The concept of traceability is meeting the reality of what people have in terms of data and the supplier information to validate and fill in the gaps.”

Increased focus

Michalski said he would not be alone in thinking the focus on food safety has ramped up in the last few years.

“It is driven by the instances of food contamination and consumer illness, it has raised awareness of better controls,” ​he said.

“FSMA is a broad outline of what needs to happen but there is a need to fill in the details. The area right now is that the food service supply chain is trying to find its way, there is some uncertainty of what has to be done and how to operationalise each set of controls.

“Industry historically has been siloed with lots of parties involved but seven to eight years ago it began sharing detailed data and recognised the benefit in terms of managing cost.

ArrowStream offers Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for the supply chain and logistics services for the foodservice industry.

It initially focused on non-asset-based third-party logistics for food chains and foodservice distributors.

The company has since developed two cloud-based software platforms: OnDemand and Crossbow.

OnDemand allows food chains and purchasing co-ops to reduce cost and control risk while Crossbow helps distributors optimize, plan, monitor and grow inbound logistics networks.

Diversis Capital acquired ArrowStream for an undisclosed amount earlier this year.

Software market penetration

It is generally recognized that to gain flexibility and quick access to information requires the Cloud and integration with one another, said Michalski.

It has not required a lot of push [from our side] but it depends on company size. Distributors out of the top 15 will be a company with one or two warehouses and restaurant chain number 500 or so will only have a handful of locations so it is a bigger deal for them to take on technology expense,” ​he said.

“In food service the supplier, distributor and restaurant chain can have a different definition of each product and it makes information exchange difficult.

“No-one wants to dig around for data anymore, they want to click on an app and get the answer.”

Michalski said the blend between human and automation will continue for the near future at least.

“In the near future we will never get away from people when they have a recall walking aisles looking at what they have and pulling cases as the risk associated is so high it is worth the time to do that,” ​he said.

“The role of technology in traceability can be a back-up, if you have pulled 50 cases and it says you should have 52 then go back and look again.

“Issues include the barcode being unreadable, wrong barcode, right barcode but information in the database is wrong, duplicate scans and people forgetting to scan. The mandate is fast: better reaction to problems and find the root cause in a better way.”

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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