Inventory management is important in every sector of the economy, but when it comes to the food industry, the proper inventory software in place can help manage supply chain logistics, ensure the timely delivery of perishables, and most importantly, safeguard consumers with beginning-to-end traceability.
“The perishables business is faster-paced and more global than ever,” says FreshByte’s Executive Vice President Charles Butler. “Distribution software is essential to limiting product loss due to spoilage, and efficient tracking and accounting can help protect profit margins.”
Traceability Key to Safety Standards in Food Industry
Increasingly complex food regulations and standards, put in place to keep the public safe, requires farm-to-table traceability.
Cutting edge traceability is needed to protect everything from leafy greens to beef as they move from farms and ranches throughout the supply chain.
“Traceability software is not just for food distributors with deep pockets anymore,” says Butler. “FreshByte software is cost-effective and can help food distributors meet and exceed government regulations for easy tracing and enables inventory tracking between vendors and end users.”
Why is traceability so important to food distribution in the U.S.? Consider these stats from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
- About 48 million people in the U.S. (1 in 6) get sick each year with foodborne diseases
- 128,000 of those sick from foodborne diseases in the U.S. will require hospitalization
- Some 3,000 people in the U.S. will die each year of foodborne illnesses
“This is a significant public health burden that is largely preventable,” says the FDA.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is transforming the nation’s food safety system by shifting the focus from responding to foodborne illness to preventing it.
Congress enacted FSMA in response to dramatic changes in the global food system and in our understanding of foodborne illness and its consequences, including the realization that preventable foodborne illness is both a significant public health problem and a threat to the economic well-being of the food system.
Establishing and Maintaining Records for Traceability
Food distribution and inventory software plays a key role in helping those who manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods to ensure the traceability of products across the supply chain.
Key features of the federal government’s proposed requirements for additional traceability records for certain foods includes:
- Critical Tracking Events: Growing, receiving, transforming, creating, and shipping would be included as critical tracking events
- Traceability Program Records: In addition to critical tracking events records, persons who manufacture, process, pack or hold foods on the food traceability list would need to establish and maintain traceability program records.
- Additional Requirements: Records must be stored such that they could not deteriorate or be lost; records need to be provided to the FDA within 24 hours’ notice; an electronic sortable spreadsheet containing relevant traceability information must be provided to the FDA within 24 hours’ notice.
Proposed Food Traceability List under FSMA includes:
- Cheeses, other than hard cheeses: Includes soft ripened or semi-soft cheeses, and fresh soft cheeses that are made with pasteurized or unpasteurized milk.
- Shell eggs: Shell egg means the egg of the domesticated chicken.
- Nut butter: Includes all types of tree nut and peanut butters; does not include soy or seed butters.
- Cucumbers: Includes all varieties of cucumbers.
- Herbs (fresh): Includes all types of herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, basil.
- Leafy greens, including fresh-cut leafy greens: Includes all types of leafy greens such as lettuce (e.g. iceberg, leaf and Romaine lettuces), kale, chicory, watercress, chard, arugula, spinach, bok choi, sorrel, collards, and endive.
- Melons: Includes all types of melons, such as cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon.
- Peppers: Includes all varieties of peppers.
- Sprouts: Includes all varieties of sprouts.
- Tomatoes: Includes all varieties of tomatoes.
- Tropical tree fruits: Includes all types of tropical tree fruit, such as mango, papaya, mamey, guava, lychee, jackfruit, and starfruit.
- Fruits and Vegetables (fresh-cut): Includes all types of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.
- Finfish, including smoked finfish: Includes all finfish species such as cod, haddock, Alaska pollack, tuna, mahi mahi, mackerel, grouper, barracuda, and salmon; except does not include siluriformes fish, such as catfish.
- Crustaceans: Includes all crustacean species, such as shrimp, crab, lobster, and crayfish.
- Mollusks, bivalves: Includes all species of bivalve mollusks, such as oysters, clams, and mussels; does not include scallop adductor muscle.
- Ready-to-eat deli salads: Includes all types of ready-to-eat deli salads, such as egg salad, potato salad, pasta salad, and seafood salad; does not include meat salads.
Listeria Outbreaks, Examples of Food Safety Lapses
The importance of food safety is in the headlines almost daily with foodborne diseases such as listeria and E. coli sickening the public.
Some examples of foodborne diseases outbreaks in recent years includes:
- Listeria Outbreak at Sara Lee: One of the Worst Food Recalls Ever
- Multistate Listeria Outbreak at Blue Bell Ice Cream
- Salmonella Outbreak at Peanut Corporation of America
These events highlight the importance of food tracking when it comes to keeping the public safe during a foodborne outbreak.
“In the case of a foodborne illness outbreak or contamination event, efficient product tracing helps government agencies and those who produce and sell food to rapidly find the source of the product and where contamination may have occurred,” said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “This enables faster removal of the affected product from the marketplace, reducing incidences of foodborne illnesses.”
Inventory Management Software Can Increase Profit Margins
Inventory management software can not only help keep the public safe with traceability, but the technology can help food distributors increase profit margins.
Among the things inventory management software can accomplish:
- Provide accurate, up-to-the-minute, multi-cost inventory
- Help manage rapid inventory turnover
- Prevent perishables from going to waste with efficient management
- Reduce costs by optimizing transit and packaging processes
“By streamlining sales and purchasing, and controlling the multiple inventory costs, FreshByte Software provides management with the critical, timely information needed to make the right business decisions,” said Butler.
Contact FreshByte Software today to learn more about how food inventory software can help your business.