Straight Talk from Eagle: The New Era of Smarter Food Safety

Christy Draus, Marketing Manager, Eagle Product Inspection

3 January 2020

It’s a new year, a new decade and a new era for food safety. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration will soon publish a strategic blueprint on its “New Era of Smarter Food Safety” initiative that emphasizes a stronger food safety culture and the use of smarter tools and technology that provide greater traceability and prevent food safety hazards in the first place. X-ray technologies fit well into this new approach, in demonstrating a company’s commitment to food safety, performing accurate, reliable inspection and capturing information and visuals for enhanced traceability. 

The goal of better food safety has been in place for decades – arguably, since food production began on a larger scale. Now, at the beginning of this new decade, the emphasis is on smarter food safety.

In a public way, this evolution is being driven by the Food and Drug Administration, which is launching an initiative called the “New Era of Smarter Food Safety.” The initiative builds on the principles of the Food Safety Modernization Act, focusing on the technologies that are available to meet the needs of an ever-evolving food industry.

Also this year, compliance inspections and regulations for small business owners as part of FSMA are set to begin. This is another impetus for the use of smarter tools to protect the food supply.

Smarter food safety is data-driven, in that those in the food chain – including growers/farmers, manufacturers, retailers and foodservice operators are taking advantage of (or should take advantage of) technologies that allow for greater traceability and quicker responses to suspected illnesses or injuries. In addition to traceability, FDA’s take on smarter food safety underscores the importance of tools that prevent food safety problems and highlights the need for a stronger food safety culture within organizations that have a role in providing foods and beverages to consumers.

To that end, x-ray advanced inspection systems are invaluable in both the prevention of food safety problems and in the rapid reaction in the event of a consumer incident or recall.

Take, for example, a recall related to metal fragments found in a cheese product, issued after a consumer discovered the foreign object. An advanced x-ray system could have found and rejected that item on the production line before it was consumed. X-ray technology could also have been used to identify the batch and date of production of that product, given the fact that the machine records images and vital information that can be easily accessed from a central database.

The use of powerful x-ray systems as a smarter food safety tool aligns with FDA’s latest initiative and with the approach already embraced by forward-thinking manufacturers who have deployed or considered deploying machines designed for tech-enabled traceability, and risk prevention and that reflect their commitment to strengthening their food safety culture.

As FDA continues to work on its strategic blueprint for the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, – expected to be published in early 2020 – Eagle continues to refine its x-ray technologies for a safer, smarter food system, updating machines and software to reflect the latest capabilities and marketplace needs. Together, manufacturers, technology and equipment providers and government organizations that issue regulations and standards are working with others across the supply chain to make this new era possible. As Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, said in an interview published on the FDA website: “This isn’t just a slogan or a tagline. Instead, it’s a new approach to food safety, one that recognizes and builds on the progress made in the past, but also incorporates the use of new technologies that are being used in society and business sectors all around us.”