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The Internet of Things to revolutionise food safety

By Rick Pendrous+

08-Mar-2016
Last updated on 08-Mar-2016 at 12:42 GMT2016-03-08T12:42:35Z

The Internet of Things is set to play a more important role in the food supply chain
The Internet of Things is set to play a more important role in the food supply chain

The Internet of Things (IoT) – the network of physical objects which are connected together to enable the collection and exchange of data – is set to play a far more important role in the food supply chain, according to a leading government scientific adviser.

Various smart technologies – from smart fridges which tell their owners to restock, to other devices which monitor the perfect condition of foods along the supply chain – will become more available to improve food safety in an “increasingly complex world”, said Professor Guy Poppy, chief scientific advisor to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

“Therefore, in terms of models, in terms of microbiological growth and use-by dates, these types of things can be modified according to the actual smart information you have,” said Poppy.

Safety by text

“These are ways you can address safety. These are ways in which people can get a text telling them that what is in their fridge is about to run out and suggest recipes with what you can make with the stuff that is in your fridge that is going off that day.”

Poppy was speaking at a conference on ‘The Future of the Food Industry’ organised by food safety company NSF International at the London offices of legal firm DWF last month.

He reported that Cabinet Office member Oliver Letwin, who is responsible for the National Risk Register, believed the IoT was going to “change the UK landscape – and probably the world’s – more in the next 20 years than you could possibly imagine”.

Pilot projects

Poppy described pilot projects in the sandwich supply chain in which the FSA was working with the University of Birmingham and environmental health officers, making use of sensor data and information technology to improve food safety.

“We are working with the University of Lincoln and Tesco where we are looking at the temperature profiles between stores, homes and storage in the domestic setting. Again, all connecting up the information that is being generated,” said Poppy.

“We are working with Aberdeen and food businesses looking at parameters and sensors in terms of traceability. And then we are working with Nottingham and Kew [Gardens] on the trend among some sectors of society in terms of grow-your-own.”

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