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Food Safety: A Top Priority for food Manufactures

Foodborne Illness Outbreaks:
Foodborne illnesses have been a significant public health concern globally, with millions of cases reported each year. They are generally caused by consuming contaminated food or beverages and result from bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year in the United States alone, there are approximately 48 million cases of foodborne illness, leading to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

New Challenges Continue to Emerge:
Significant progress has been made in food safety practices and regulations, but other factors are now contributing to the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks. These include the globalization of the food supply chain and the emergence of new pathogens or strains of existing ones. Climate change, bioterrorism concerns, population growth and urbanization can also impact food safety by affecting agricultural practices, food production and distribution.

Regulatory Response:
Governments and regulatory agencies worldwide are continuously working to improve food safety standards and regulations. These efforts aim to prevent, detect and respond to foodborne illness outbreaks more effectively.

In 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), published the Food Traceability Final Rule, implementing FSMA Section 204. Its intent is to help ensure the safety of the food supply, emphasizing prevention, risk-based strategies and stronger collaboration among government agencies, food industry stakeholders and public health organizations. Businesses must be prepared to comply with FSMA 204 regulations by January 20, 2026.

Limitations of Traditional Food Traceability Methods:
Traditional methods, reliant on manual tracking and limited data capture, present clear limitations in today’s complex food supply chains.

  • Manual tracking is prone to human error and inefficiencies. Workers struggle to provide real-time visibility into the movement of food products, making it challenging to respond swiftly to food safety issues or recalls.
  • Limited data capture offers only basic information like origin and destination. The inability to collect detailed data at critical points in the food journey hinders risk management, outbreak investigation and regulatory compliance.

The Power of Technology in Food Safety Assurance:
New technology methods are revolutionizing the way the industry approaches tracking and monitoring food products throughout the supply chain. Innovations like machine vision, real-time tracking, enhanced data analysis, temperature sensors, advanced data recording and timely alerts are reshaping food traceability, delivering unparalleled benefits to the industry.

How Two Industry Leaders Revolutionize Food Industry Together:
For over 26 years, American Barcode and RFID (AB&R®) and Zebra Technologies have forged a strong partnership, built on mutual trust, shared commitment to excellence and a common vision for the future of food safety and transparency. By combining their respective strengths, they provide customers with unmatched expertise and support, ensuring seamless implementation and ongoing optimization of the selected traceability solution. Here is how they achieve results:

Zebra Technologies provides a flexible, intuitive and completely automated solution that drives operation efficiency. The Zebra Machine Vision portfolio offers field-proven solutions that empower customers with speed and precision. Machine Vision combined with temperature sensors have the potential to transform food traceability, improving manufacturing defect detection by up to 90%. This solution automates data capture
and streamlines record-keeping for critical tracking events (CTEs) mandated by FISMA 204.

Together, AB&R® and Machine Vision by Zebra enable:

  • Seamless Integration: AB&R®’s expertise lies in integrating disparate systems. This ensures Zebra Machine Vision systems work smoothly alongside existing barcode and RFID infrastructure, creating a unified data collection and management ecosystem for the customer’s production line.
  • Data Management: They can provide solutions for managing the data captured by the machine vision systems, ensuring its accessibility and usability for further analysis.
  • Implementation and Support: AB&R® offers implementation services to set up the machine vision systems on a customer’s production line and ongoing support to ensure its smooth operation.

Combined Benefits Include:

  • Improved Overall Efficiency: Zebra Machine Vision and AB&R® collaborate to streamline production processes, resulting in faster throughput and reduced costs.
  • Enhanced Quality Control: Automated inspections ensure consistent product quality and reduce the risk of defective food products reaching customers.
  • Data-Driven Decision-Making: The data collected allows for better decision-making regarding production processes and overall business strategy.

Solution Components At-a-Glance:

  • Zebra Machine Vision and Fixed Industrial Scanning:
    Tap into Zebra’s robust lineup of fixed industrial scanning and machine vision products that deliver greater flexibility, choice, simplicity and value. Streamline how you qualify, procure and deploy automation products, software and components with a single source for all your needs.
  • Real-Time Data Analysis:
    The data captured by the Zebra Machine Vision portfolio can be integrated with other systems for advanced analytics. This allows for better risk assessments and quicker identification of potential problems.
  • Temperature Sensors and Timely Alerts:
    Temperature sensors play a crucial role in monitoring food products at various stages of the supply chain, especially during storage, transportation and processing. They can ensure that food is kept at safe temperatures to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth, critical for maintaining product integrity and compliance with health standards. Additionally, sensors can trigger alerts if temperatures deviate from acceptable ranges, allowing for immediate intervention.

Interested in learning more about how to improve safety in your food production supply chain and be better prepared to comply with FSMA 204 regulations? An expert from AB&R® will be happy to help you.