How Digital Labels Can Make the Food Manufacturing Process Safer
The food manufacturing process industry needs to conduct its operations in safe facilities to provide safer goods to consumers. Newton Industrial is the perfect digital label system for such large-scale facilities.
The food manufacturing industry is a billion-dollar industry. Food, after all, is an essential part of life. Everyone needs food to live. This very fact makes it harder for food manufacturers, of course. This means they have to be meticulous in their procedures and ensure that they are not endangering anyone with their products or their practices. Food manufacturing businesses would always have to assess their operations, identify problems, and implement new solutions (like digital labels) to ensure safety in the food manufacturing process.
Why is food safety important in the food manufacturing industry?
Food safety, of course, is an absolute priority when it comes to the food manufacturing industry. Food manufacturing businesses, beverage manufacturers, frozen food manufacturers, and more have the utmost responsibility to keep their products safe and secure. Negligence and subpar protocols can lead to deathly results, both for their workers and for consumers. These can also lead to inefficient operations, conflicts, harmful environmental impacts, and more.
Here are some of the top reasons why food safety is important:
- Protection from food-borne illnesses - Foodborne illnesses can affect everyone since anyone can consume contaminated foods and beverages. This threat is common when it comes to the food industry, and even more so for food manufacturers. Some of the most common foodborne illnesses include Salmonella, Norovirus, E. Coli, Hepatitis A, and more. These can come from cross-contamination, raw meat, raw eggs, unpasteurized milk or juice, and more. Food safety ensures that food manufacturers go through appropriate procedures and safety protocols to keep products safe to consume and avoid food hazards.
- Waste reduction - Contaminated foods and items should be disposed of, which will lead to food waste for food manufacturing businesses. Implementing the right food safety measures helps reduce waste for the food manufacturer. It ensures that no food supplies or resources are wasted and that efficiency is achieved.
- Cost and risk reduction - Contaminated foods lead to illnesses, or serious food poisoning cases, and financial penalties. In Singapore, a food caterer was fined $6,000 for hygiene offenses that led to almost a hundred food poisoning cases. This is why proper food safety is crucial. It ensures that food products do not endanger the lives of consumers or lead to monetary compensation from the business.
- Compliance with laws and regulations - Of course, food safety is also mandated by law. From cooking temperatures to food processing to packaging and sewage disposal, various food safety regulations must be adhered to. Food manufacturing businesses need to comply with these if they want to continue operations and keep their customers healthy and satisfied.
- Better sustainability - Some food manufacturing procedures may not be as environmentally friendly as many have thought to be. However, there are now modern food safety measures being implemented that have better environmental impact. Food manufacturing businesses that invest in these will have better sustainability.
- Good reputation - Implementing proper food safety measures helps build a good reputation for food manufacturing businesses. This sends out a message to consumers and potential supporters that a brand has the highest priority and standards when it comes to food safety and health. People want to support these kinds of brands and will only continue to do so in the future.
What are the common problems of food processing businesses?
Since food safety is a big part of the food manufacturing process, it’s no surprise that businesses also go through certain unique challenges. Food manufacturers need to face these challenges head-on if they want to certify the health and safety of their workers and their consumer base.
Here are some of the common food safety problems facing food processing businesses:
Sanitation of food processing equipment
The food production process involves using multiple kinds of equipment and machinery. However, this also means that this equipment should be properly cleaned and sanitized. Insufficient cleaning and sanitation practices in equipment and facilities can lead to the growth of harmful microorganisms and compromise food safety. The risk of contamination, whether it be from biological, chemical, or physical hazards should be a significant concern for the business.
Cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods, between different food items, or from microbial hazards can occur during processing. Businesses need to make sure their cleaning and sanitation are always on point.
Poor plant design
Poor plant design might also lead to inefficient processes and workflow. An inefficient workflow can lead to injuries, delays, mistakes, and food contamination. Food manufacturers need to identify bottlenecks and hazards within the layout of their plants and provide a solution that will solve inefficiencies and mistakes.
Insufficient training of employees in food safety practices and procedures is also a big problem for food manufacturing businesses. Inadequate training can contribute to lapses in handling and hygiene, increasing the risk of injuries, accidents, and even contamination.
For example, one of the most common injuries in food processing plants includes cuts and amputations due to improper use of knives, cutters, slicers, choppers, and grinders. This can be attributed to a lack of training or improper training, which can lead to these injuries and even bigger problems like contamination and unhygienic practices. A recent study has also found that poor safety training, poor worker knowledge, and poor safety culture all contribute to occupational injuries among food industry workers.
Supply chain demands
Contamination risks can extend to raw materials and ingredients sourced from suppliers. Slight delays and improper packaging in the supply chain can also greatly affect the ingredients and resources necessary for the food manufacturing process. There are chances of hazards, microbial contamination, and more. This means that ensuring the safety of the entire supply chain is essential to preventing contaminated inputs.
Machine mislabeling and misbranding
Of course, incorrect labeling of the actual products, including inaccurate ingredient lists, allergen information, or expiration dates, can pose serious risks to consumers and result in legal consequences for the business. However, improper labeling or branding in the food manufacturing process and machines can also lead to fatal mistakes.
Incorrect labels for raw materials or ingredients, a lack of machine or equipment labels, and incorrect food processing status labels can lead to serious risks and accidents. This includes contamination, hazards, and operational inefficiencies. For larger businesses mass-producing food items and products, machine labels can help mark for safety and lock-out purposes.
What are the ways to ensure food safety in the food production process?
Ensuring food safety in the food production process is a crucial element for the food manufacturing industry. As mentioned above, this can protect consumers from foodborne illnesses, maintain the reputation of the food business, and a lot more.
Here are some key ways food businesses can enhance food safety:
- HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) System - Most businesses implement a HACCP system, which involves identifying and controlling potential hazards at critical points in the production process. Manufacturers conduct a thorough hazard analysis to identify biological, chemical, and physical hazards.
- Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) - These are industry-wide standards for the production of safe and quality food. Businesses need to adhere to GMPs to ensure proper sanitation, hygiene, and cleanliness in the production facility.
- Allergen Management - Businesses implement strict protocols for handling and labeling allergens. They separate and clearly label allergenic ingredients to prevent cross-contamination.
- Temperature Control - Maintaining proper temperature control throughout the production process is also crucial, from storage to cooking and cooling. Businesses regularly monitor and record temperatures to ensure compliance with safety standards.
- Cleaning and Sanitation Practices - Robust cleaning and sanitation procedures are also needed when it comes to equipment, utensils, and the production environment. Businesses use approved cleaning agents and ensure proper sanitation schedules are followed.
- Supplier Verification - Businesses also need to verify the safety and quality of raw materials and ingredients from suppliers. They might establish criteria for supplier approval and conduct regular audits to ensure compliance.
- Traceability - Food manufacturers establish systems for traceability as well. This is to track the movement of raw materials and finished products.
- Quality Control and Testing - Implementing quality control measures is crucial to monitoring the consistency and quality of products in food manufacturing. They also conduct regular testing for contaminants, pathogens, and other potential hazards.
- Employee Training - Proper employee training on food safety practices, hygiene, and the importance of following established procedures is necessary. Businesses need to provide regular updates and refresher courses as well to keep employees informed about the latest food safety protocols.
- Documentation and Record-keeping - Some also practice maintaining detailed records of production processes, sanitation procedures, and quality control measures. Businesses also document employee training and compliance with food safety protocols.
- Monitoring of Regulations - Food manufacturers also stay informed about and comply with local, national, and international food safety regulations. They regularly update procedures to align with evolving regulations.
- Digital Label Systems - Some food manufacturers also make use of modern solutions like digital label systems to improve communication, workflows, and safety culture. They can remotely update these labels to show machine warnings, instructions, safety precautions, and more.
Can digital labels make the food manufacturing process safer?
Food manufacturers continue to explore solutions and technology to make their jobs easier. Implementing digital labels, however, remains one of the best solutions for food manufacturers. This is to improve safety in the facility and the food manufacturing process.
For example, the Newton Industrial digital labels by SOLUM ESL are a streamlined, large-scale solution made for the modernization of the manufacturing sector. The Newton Industrial can transform food production processes and other operations, unlike traditional labels and status signage. This is because it’s equipped with technology such as:
- 1-second reaction time for LED blinking
- Fully graphic black-and-white e-paper technology
- Multiple size variations, including 4.2”, 7.5”, and 11.6”
- Low interference
- High-speed data transmission connection
- Multifunctional buttons
- Location-Based Service (LBS)
- 7-color LED
- 7-page information capacity
- Built-in protection cover
Digital labels might be primarily used in retail settings to display pricing and product information on store shelves. However, SOLUM’s Newton Industrial is designed to thrive in manufacturing businesses. It can contribute to industrial operations and enhance overall food safety efforts.
Here are a few ways digital labels can improve safety in the food production process:
Accuracy in labeling
Digital labels can help ensure accurate and up-to-date product information. For the food manufacturing process, this includes ingredients, allergen warnings, expiration dates, temperature requirements, inventory count of ingredients or raw materials, machine or equipment status, and more. This accuracy is crucial for workers to achieve precision and operational efficiency.
Supply chain traceability
If integrated with inventory and supply chain management systems, digital labels can contribute to traceability efforts and improve supply chain issues. Newton Industrial even has its label management system, which can be used to oversee hundreds of labels and check inventory levels. This can help workers track the status of raw ingredients and raw materials, check for any shipping delays, improve inventory management, and more.
Reduced paper waste
Traditional paper labels can be easily damaged or lost, leading to incorrect or outdated information. Digital labels, on the other hand, eliminate the need for paper labels. Information on the labels can be updated remotely, and in seconds, within the facility. This reduces the risk of misinformation and ensures that accurate details are consistently displayed.
Newton Industrial, in particular, also has a built-in protection cover, which makes it ideal for industrial settings. This not only means reduced paper waste but also better sustainability overall.
Better work safety culture
Food manufacturing workers are known to have a 60% higher rate of occupational injury than workers in other industries. With digital labels, food manufacturers can create a better work safety culture for their employees. They can have digital signage showing safety reminders, proper hygiene practices, and even machine warnings and instructions. By doing this, food manufacturers can also improve worker knowledge, which contributes to unnecessary injuries in the workplace.
Since the Newton Industrial boasts fast and optimized technology, installing digital labels like this can optimize the workflow of a food manufacturing plant. Features like the 1-second reaction time for LED blinking optimize the picking process. Meanwhile, the Location-Based Service (LBS) allows managers to track worker movements, shelf activity, or moving equipment and raw materials in the facilities. The 7-color LED lights can also be programmed to fit the operational needs of the food manufacturer, whether it be to indicate expiration dates for ingredients or spices, equipment status, final output, supply chain updates, or more. All of its features can help workers stay on top of everything and keep everything flowing smoothly.
Food manufacturing processes will always need the utmost quality, security, and safety. With digital labels installed in the facility, food manufacturers have the chance to truly improve their environment, and go beyond the safety of their consumers and laborers.
Talk to SOLUM experts today and learn more about how digital labels can keep food production and facilities safe.