Trucking Industry Deals with the Food Safety Modernization Act

There’s a great article in Fleet Owner Magazine that describes the looming impact of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on the trucking industry.  While the details of the law are still being hammered out, the law does require the secretary of the US Health and Human Services (HHS) department to “promulgate regulations onsanitary transportation practices for the transportationof food.” Further it requires HHS to “improve tracking and tracing of processed foods and fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak; and establish standards for the type of information, format, and time frame for persons to submit records to aid the secretary in such tracking and tracing.”

The FSMA Will Impact the Trucking Industry

Carriers are being urged to utilize technology to help assure the integrity and safety of their goods and, in the case of temperature-controlled food for instance, also help to reduce spoilage and loss. According to Dr. John Ryan, president of Ryan Systems, it is the shippers’ customers’ that are the ones holding the whip handle. According to Ryan, food spoilage in transit is also “a huge issue.” The article states that approximately 5 to 7% of food is lost in transit. But using technology to monitor temperature and to optimize cargo loading and routing can be a big help.

“Mostly, the suppliers’ customers are the ones who want to know the data about the perishables they are paying for,” says Ryan. “They are driving this because they are the ones on the front line facing the customer, the end user. Their message [to carriers] is plain: You are responsible for what you are shipping to me.”

Ryan then discusses sensor-based technologies and how RFID can help. “You can use sensors to get temperature readings at the pallet level and you can use GPS to track the load and cellular technology to transmit the temperature data in real time.

RFID-based sensors can also enable dynamic routing to improve the delivery and freshness of produce.“Produce with the shortest shelf life should be delivered first and through the shortest route,” Ryan notes, “in order to give that retailer the most shelf life possible. Technology makes that doable.”

Intelleflex data confirms this to be true.  There’s a lot of temperature variability – at the pallet level – in the trailers. You can read our case study on the impacts of temperature on blackberries here.

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing

Read the Case Study


US Grocery Store Shelves Stocked with Imports

Which of these statements is true?

  • Half of the fresh fruit we eat in the USA comes from outside of the country.
  • 86% of the shrimp, salmon, tilapia and other fish we consume comes from outside of the USA.
  • About 25% of our orange juice is imported into the USA.

The answer is “all of the above”.  According to a recent article by Christina Rexrode of the Associated Press, America’s desire for food produced overseas is growing.  The USDA states that 16.8% of the food in the USA is imported, up from 11.3% two decades ago.

Half of the Fresh Fruit in the USA is Imported

Why? Several reasons are cited including improved communications and transportation systems but, in many cases, it’s simply cheaper to produce food abroad where wages are often lower and there are fewer environmental regulations. There’s also a shift in America’s food preferences due to increasing immigration. Add to that the fact that Americans want their favorite foods all year around meaning that berries, spinach and other produce have to be imported during the winter months.

What are the implications for food quality and safety? Time and temperature equal freshness and proper handling and storage in transit helps to prevent spoilage and the growth of human pathogens. To help ensure quality and safety, it’s critical to monitor and document the temperature of produce every step of the way, especially if the product is spending extended time in transit aboard container ships, airplanes or trucks.  And, it’s important that a comprehensive history of the product is recorded and stored with the product in the event of a recall.

Wireless, in-transit temperature monitoring solutions address these needs in a cost effective manner.  You can learn more here.

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing


Why Do I shop at _______?

Why do consumers select a particular grocery store?  The answer is because of the store’s fresh produce. People are increasingly searching for healthy food options and heading for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Progressive Grocer‘s December issue features its annual Produce Operations Review which provides a snapshot of the foremost issues the average retail produce director deals with on an annual basis.  Three of the top six concerns relate to produce quality, customer satisfaction and reducing shrink.  (The other three are economic concerns to the retailer. 14 reasons were listed in the survey results.)

  1. Wholesale Prices
  2. Competition from Supermarkets
  3. Quality of Product
  4. Shrink/Spoilage
  5. Profits
  6. Customer Satisfaction Levels

Shoppers are increasingly scouting out the freshest, highest value produce they can find.  They don’t want to spend their precious dollars on produce that will go bad the next day.  If they buy a basket of strawberries on Friday only to find that come Saturday morning the berries are fuzzy and molding, they’ll likely consider switching to another store.  This puts the onus on the retailer to ensure adequate shelf life and quality of the produce they sell.  But visual inspection isn’t always adequate to ensure the produce will remain fresh long enough for the consumer to enjoy it.

Fresh, High Value Produce is Key to Customer Satisfaction

In-transit temperature monitoring can help.  Temperature monitoring can provide a shelf life index (or freshness factor) that tells the grocer that the produce he or she is receiving from distribution is fresh enough to sell, providing actionable data that goes well beyond visual inspection.  Interestingly, by improving the quality of produce, retailers can create competitive advantage that helps address the other three issues relating to pricing, profits and competition! You can learn more about this by reading our case study and white paper or email me.

Here’s to a healthy and fresh 2012!

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing

RFID in the Pharmaceutical Industry

A recent issue of The PDA Letter (October 2011) featured an article titled “Evaluating the Use of RFID in the Pharmaceutical Industry”. The article was great about highlighting many of the benefits and issues associated with using RFID solutions, especially related to the reduction of counterfeiting and theft and improving supply chain security. Unfortunately, the article raised some concerns about the use of RFID in pharmaceuticals that no longer apply.  Let me explain.

Examining RFID in Pharmaceuticals

Prior to joining Intelleflex, I was in charge of the anti-counterfeiting serialization program at Genzyme.  I was a big believer (and frankly still am) of using 2D barcode technology for tracking individual units of pharmaceuticals. At the case- and pallet-level however, RFID is a much more effective solution than barcodes, especially now that there are good RFID tags for storing the information related to the inference data that also features chain of custody recording capabilities.

As indicated in the article, over the past couple of years, many advances have been made towards an industry-wide adoption of RFID but few of have yet to take advantage of the additional benefits next generation RFID Class 3 Battery Assisted Passive (BAP) tags that companies like Intelleflex manufacture.  These BAP tags offer many new features and capabilities towards improving the documented proof of efficacy at delivery, actionable data for in-transit monitoring and for serialization. These tags, with their built in memory and processor, are able to log and store condition data of the product from inside the package while providing secure access.  They’re also are FAA compliant, with a much longer free air read range than traditional passive RFID tags that provides the power to penetrate the packaging without opening or tampering.

The article raises unfounded concerns surrounding what, if any, impact RFID would have on biologics and their efficacy. As reported in The RFID Journal,  the University of Southern Florida recently conducted a study on the drug/biologics efficacy impact of RFID and came up with no evidence of any such impact.

Class 3  is definitely worth a look for your pharma supply chain applications.

Peter Norton

Senior Cold Chain Consultant – Intelleflex