Cargill still keep food safety as top priority
The rapid pace of advancements in food safety technologies are going to add to the pressures food and beverage manufacturers are currently under, said Mike Robach, vice president of food safety, quality and regulatory affairs for Cargill, Minneapolis. While such emerging technologies as whole genome sequencing, blockchain and data analytics may present challenges, they also may create opportunities, he said.
“At Cargill we operate 1,500 food production plants in over 70 countries,” Robach said. “Our supply chain is really a network. And on top of it we have the increased complexity of governments and regulatory oversight, transparency and consumer trust.” It is within that framework that Cargill is working with the emerging new technologies. Because of the specificity of whole genome sequencing, for example, regulators can link outbreaks to specific products more rapidly.
“Disease detection is becoming much more sophisticated,” Robach said. “I can tell you from personal experience that two illnesses can be considered a cluster and trigger a recall. “New pathogens are emerging, and those never associated with certain commodities are now being linked. What about E. coli and dairy? It won’t grow in a freezer, but it will survive. What about wheat flour? Who would have thought?”
The opportunity for Cargill is how the company is using whole genome sequencing to its benefit. The challenge is regulators think it is a great technology as well. Robach said what needs to be understood is identification of a pathogen in a plant does not imply a link to a food safety incidence. The supply chain technology blockchain is one way food and beverage companies may enhance transparency and gain the trust of more consumers. Cargill has successfully used blockchain in its turkey operations. Robach readily admitted that the reason Cargill chose turkey is because it was an easy process. Using the technology with such traditional commodities as corn, wheat and soy, for example, will be much more difficult.
Source: Diary Foods Association