Consumers overwhelmingly trust their grocery store to ensure the food they buy is safe, but for most food we eat, the store shelf is the end-point of a seldom-considered journey that may span thousands of miles and change hands multiple times. With the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act beginning to take effect in 2016, food transport is coming into the spotlight for the first time.
An international leader in refrigeration and food safety technology, Emerson is leveraging the Internet of Things to help customers meet these new requirements and protect food safety by using real-time monitoring throughout the food "cold chain." The cold chain is an interconnected system of high-tech facilities, shipping containers and transport vehicles that work behind the scenes to preserve food safety and maintain food quality. From fresh fruits to meats to bags of frozen vegetables, much of the food consumers buy spends time in transit on the cold chain.
Food safety is more top-of-mind for consumers than ever. A recent Emerson survey found that nine out of 10 adults are concerned about food safety, and rightly so: Nearly 50 million Americans become sick from a food-borne illness each year. Each step on a food's journey introduces opportunities for foods to rise above safe temperatures, but advanced technology is making a major impact.
"Only a few decades ago, food transporters would put a thermometer in the food once it reached its destination, whether the trip was five or 500 miles," said Bob Sharp, executive president of Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions. "Now, we have the technology to give us constant insight into food temperature from the farm to the warehouse to the store, helping to protect food safety and quality for the customers we serve."
Emerson recently bolstered its cold chain capabilities, making it possible to preserve food safety by using small, Internet of Things-enabled sensors to constantly monitor the surface temperature of foods. The company's acquisitions of Locus Traxx and PakSense enable them to provide real-time temperature tracking and a full suite of temperature monitoring solutions to protect perishable goods through the supply chain. Combined with its advanced ProActT monitoring of refrigeration and food in 17,000 retail sites and more than 2,000 shipping vessels globally, Emerson now offers end-to-end technology solutions to monitor food from farm to fork.
This advanced technology is increasingly important to both retailers and consumers. Emerson's survey found that 87 percent of respondents agree that better data is necessary for food safety; about 85 percent believe better technology plays an important role. And nearly eight out of 10 people surveyed said they would be less likely to purchase food from stores that are not using the latest technologies to keep food safe.