Supermarkets urged to invest in food safety technologies

Retailers have been encouraged to demand more robust processes from their suppliers. 

Following the 2 Sisters Food Group scandal – in which workers at its West Bromwich facility were alleged to be altering food safety records and violating hygiene standards – retailers have been told to invest in supporting technology to prevent data falsification, especially in relation to potential food safety risks.

After the reopening of the West Bromwich plant, full-time Food Standards Agency officials, extended CCTV cameras and the retaining of staff have been implemented.  

Jason Chester, global strategic account manager at data collection and analysis solutions company InfinityQS, said this incident highlighted existing issues in the food manufacturing and auditing processes and supermarkets should use it as motivation to ensure that the correct procedures were fulfilled across the entire production process.

“The findings from the investigation into 2 Sisters were truly shocking and highlight a much wider concern as to why industries, with potentially high goods-safety issues, such as food manufacturing and particularly poultry, are at risk of tampering, with staff easily able to change records of fact,” questioned Chester.

“The reality is that most supermarkets have stringent processes in place for their own food traceability and auditing processes, but this episode shows that this must be extended further to ensure that the same levels of quality assurance are achievable among suppliers. As an example, when it comes to data capture methods, a lot of food manufacturers still rely on antiquated methods to record and store information, such as pen and paper, resulting in a manufacturing system that is open to deception and criminal activity.”

Chester noted that incidents of this nature damage the relationship and trust between the supermarkets, the suppliers and the consumer. He said this could lead to supermarkets no longer accepting word-of-mouth assurances on the quality of produce sourced. It could also lead to more first-hand visitations of sites to meet with the supply chain and experience how food is handled, stored and processed.

“Additionally, manufacturers will also need to demonstrate their commitment to better manufacturing technology,” said Chester.

“Those antiquated methods, such as pen and paper for recording information, will be no longer acceptable, with new solutions needing to be put in place that enable full auditing capabilities of checks and processes, so that if operators do change or tamper with records, alerts can be raised before a food safety issue becomes possible.

“Clearly, technology can play a big role in supporting food safety and traceability, and arguably, if the suppliers themselves cannot afford this investment, support should then come from the supermarkets themselves or even escalating this further to lobby for potential government subsidies that can make food safety practices affordable to everyone.” 

Want more stories like this in your inbox?

Sign up for our FREE email newsletter

Keywords:

My Account

Spotlight

Most read

Social

For the third year running, a grain fed cow won the World Steak Challenge. What do you think produces the best beef?