Data Analytics in Food Safety

Sustainable Food Production and SafetyRecently, we identified two of the key trends shaping the food and beverage industry:  The elimination of waste and improved sustainability. Now, we’ll discuss another game changer: technology in food safety, which just so happened to be on everyone’s mind at this year’s Food Safety Summit.

Google the phrase “food recall”, or browse #recall on Twitter, and you’ll be flooded with mentions of the latest food safety lapses. One of the most recent, an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce has caused several deaths and 197 sick in 35 states.


Such incidents have refocused the spotlight on how food is processed and packaged — and it’s making food distributors reconsider their approach to food safety.

Technology and Safety

Many believe the digital transformation occurring in other industries will also impact the food production industry. In fact, this was a main talking point for the keynote presentation at the annual Food Safety Summit, by Amazon’s Vice President, Health and Safety, Sustainability, Security & Compliance, Carletta Ooton. In her presentation entitled “Amazon’s Approach to Innovation and What it Means for Food Safety,” Carletta discussed how Amazon is improving food safety through big data and data analytics solutions.

What’s Amazon’s innovative approach? The company built a product review system that uses pre-programmed computers, using Natural Language Processing, to read and understand each review’s context, sentiment, and sentence structure. If a product safety issue is found, the system alerts management immediately. For example, an Amazon customer purchased an energy powder drink mix and provided the following feedback on the website,

“Gave me energy for my workouts, but also wreaked havoc on my digestive tract. That was only taking 1 scoop rather than the recommended 2 scoops. I can’t imagine how sick the full serving would have made me. I had to stop taking it after 3 days.”

In this case, Amazon’s system analyzed the comment and alerted management to a possible food safety issue. Of course, negative food product reviews do happen to safe products but there are certain words and phrases, in certain contexts that signal possible safety issues. Since the alert in the above example included a high confidence of 87.4%, Amazon’s team immediately pulled the product and verified it’s veracity.

Traditional Preventative Procedures

Improving food processing safety in more traditional ways include common sense maintenance and safety procedures that may not be common practice. For example, the following preventative measures should be included in any industrial food processing checklist:

  • Mandatory hand-washing procedures for food handlers. Strict adherence to this measure is the first defense against spreading dangerous bacteria.
  • Investing in the right tools and technologies to improve sanitation results, help prevent cross-contamination, increase food safety and product quality,  are crucial measures to achieve FSMA compliance.
  • In addition to cleaning, sanitizing is essential.  Surface sanitation systems, such as the Goodway’s Biospray D2 Sanitizer and its Commercial Vapor-Steam Cleaner can kill bacteria on contact — while also keeping food safe during processing.
    To find out more about all the food processing sanitation products Goodway offers, contact one its representatives today. Goodway offers a platform for you to develop the cleaning protocols that fit your facility’s needs. Next Steps

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