The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) introduced a raft of complex requirements to “focus more on preventing food safety problems rather than relying primarily on reacting…” states the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The regulations not only encompass food transport, but how it is grown, harvested and processed. The law is intended to reduce the risk of food hazards reaching consumers resulting in recalls or foodborne illnesses—which is a good thing—but the impact for supply chains means more stringent protocols, recordkeeping and reporting requirements to show that foodstuffs were kept in compliant conditions throughout their journey from farm to table.
During shipment, stakeholders need to collect comprehensive, continual data about the chain of custody and control as well as the environmental conditions through all modes of travel. This information can be shared and shows that these perishable shipments are kept in the correct environments without interruption. Temperature, humidity, impact, vibration and other environmental factors are logged to confirm regulatory compliance. The records must be retrievable within 24 hours when requested. When a condition breach occurs, it is important to have the information in real-time to enable corrections and adjustments to save the shipment from total loss.
Producers, processors/packagers, shippers and 3PL partners must coalesce into an unbroken chain of custody. The goal is to make traceability easier so people and government regulators know where the food comes from, how it is processed and that it is safe to consume.
In the past, it was difficult to track location and condition information when the goods were in transit. The process was mainly manual consisting of phone calls, emails, etc. When the first generation of technology was introduced, the data was collected during shipping but it required the retrieval and uploading of the information at the destination. The next generation of IoT technology provides real-time monitoring of each shipment in transit. Smart sensors and devices attached to each shipment, even down to the pallet- or package-level depending upon the solution implemented, offer visibility into the shipment’s location, temperature and other environmental conditions transmitted via cellular gateway to a cloud application that lets stakeholders view shipment activity as it makes its way from origin to destination. This information automatically logs and records for later retrieval or a trigger for alert notifications when something is amiss.
To read more about how smart, cloud-connected tracking sensors can help improve food safety and FSMA compliance, download our guide, Fresh Food: Managing FSMA & Quality with IoT Technology, here.