Zebra Technologies Corporation, a leading digital solution provider enabling businesses to intelligently connect data, assets, and people, is highlighting how technology – from machine vision using sophisticated deep learning neural networks to electronic temperature sensors – can help keep food safe across supply chains, ultimately helping to keep consumers safe and business reputation and revenue intact.  

Costly food recalls, outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, compliance regulations and higher consumer expectations are critical factors driving rapid change in the food and beverage industry. As a result, enterprises in the food supply chain -- from the manufacturing plant floor to transportation and logistics operations and retail companies -- are challenged to implement more effective food safety processes.

“According to the World Health Organization, there are around 200 diseases caused by unsafe food, and every year one in ten people around the world becomes ill after eating contaminated food,” said Daniel Dombach, Director of Industry Solutions EMEA, Zebra Technologies.

“All countries are concerned. And according to the Zebra Food Safety Supply Chain Vision Study, only an average of 37% of industry decision-makers and 20% of consumers place complete trust in the industry to ensure food and beverage safety. Unsafe food can be harmful to people and can’t be sold, resulting in wasted time and inventory as well as missed sales for businesses.”

Sixty-nine percent of industry decision-makers say the industry can manage food traceability and transparency, but only 35% of consumers agree. The need to improve and increase consumer trust is evident, with 93% of industry decision-makers planning to increase investment in food-monitoring technology.

To help professionals in the food and beverage industry address this issue, Zebra, a company that provides innovative solutions to address performance and visibility issues, recently launched its new line of electronic environmental sensors which transform environmental exposures into customer insights.

These sensors provide industry professionals with accurate temperature and location data continuously in near real-time and enables the creation of reports to help maintain quality and compliance. This enables them to know if products have been maintained within appropriate conditions across the supply chain. The sensors help improve profitability by allowing users to take corrective action in real time and maximise their productivity with an efficient data logger.

“Our machine vision solutions, using advanced deep learning neural networks, can also play an important role in quality, classification, presence/absence, and compliance checking of fresh food which has greater levels of variation and surface complexity, as well as manufactured food and packaging,” said Dombach.

“Machine vision can help ensure what is being made, processed and dispatched meets food safety and packaging standards.”

Machine vision systems and new sensors join Zebra’s comprehensive range of track and trace solutions, including printable and ready-to-use sensors, software, mobile devices for communication, and printers, scanners, and radio frequency identification (RFID). These technologies help food manufacturers, food supply chain, restaurants, quick service food outlets help ensure safety, compliance and customer satisfaction is met.

“It’s striking that the full range of technology, from the very latest, cutting-edge high-tech and new electronic temperature sensors to the familiar and simple barcode and RFID label, can each play a part in food safety across the supply chain,” said Dombach.