How can IoT and Artificial Intelligence improve food safety compliance?

CME

27 April 2019

An increasing number of restaurants and other food service businesses are looking to technology solutions to ward off the potentially devastating consequences of human error in the arena of food safety.

Food safety regulations usually focus on two main areas: prevention of contamination and traceability of food products through all stages of production, processing and distribution.

Some of the most important food safety measures relate to the food storage environment. Controlled temperature and humidity avoid creating conditions for the growth of dangerous bacteria like salmonella. Therefore, the temperature of refrigerators, freezers and front unit chillers is usually monitored and logged at least three to six times a day. Likewise, labeling is key to ensure that employees discard expired products before they reach the consumer.

Employees tend to cut corners on what they consider to be redundant and boring tasks, despite their sensitivity and potential public health impact. Many employees fill in the temperature logs without even looking at a thermometer, simply because they believe it is unlikely that they would be held accountable for a mistake. Even if security cameras are present and continuously recording, in practice, no one is likely to review that footage unless the employee gets in trouble.

 As for labels, they may be altered to avoid tossing expired foods, with an eye to maximizing profitability. The label, after all, is simply a piece of paper with next to no traceability.

By relying on artificial intelligence and the internet of things to carry out operations related to temperature control and labeling, restaurants and other food-related businesses can reduce their risks and preserve the integrity of their brands, while authorities can increase compliance without the need to rely on an army of inspectors.

ZippyYum’s GoTemp is a leading technology solution. The compact infrared thermometer is compatible with any smartphone and third party temperature probes. The temperature logs are saved in the cloud along with the product being measured (which is automatically detected by a camera), the date, time, and employee doing the reading. The application offers a step-by-step customizable corrective actions if a product’s temperature is out of the safe range, and it can alert managers for abnormal logs. 

Similarly, GoOps application offers a custom label-printing function, which adds a level of control and digital traceability to the labeling process and food preparations. The tablet-based app offers a wide range of other functions to manage restaurant operations and reduce waste, including generating prepping guides and schedules that tell employees when and how to prep day, AI-based prepping and baking algorithms to reduce waste, and customizable checklists.

These products are among the growing number of technologies to which food industry professionals are turning for a cost-effective means to ensure accountability and efficiency in food safety measures.