UK – Global assurance partner LRQA is urging a strategic pause in the race to adopt cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the food industry.

Despite the immense potential of AI to revolutionize efficiency in global food supply chains, LRQA underscores the critical importance of establishing a rock-solid foundation in food safety culture before fully integrating these advanced technologies.

Jan Kranghand, the Global Head of LRQA’s Food Centre of Excellence, acknowledges the transformative capabilities of AI, which can analyze vast datasets to identify patterns and generate insights, and blockchain, ensuring an immutable digital record of transactions for transparent supply chain monitoring.

However, he cautions against overlooking the necessity of a comprehensive food safety culture that permeates every stage of the supply chain.

“Food is better than ever, but this cannot be taken for granted. The food industry must prioritise transparency, ensure it is collecting the right data and focus on creating a food safety culture,” Kranghand emphasizes.

He calls for a paradigm shift in the mindset of the food industry, suggesting a thorough evaluation of existing processes and a transition towards a risk-based approach. Before delving into the realm of AI, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT), Kranghand advocates understanding the concept of ‘best-in-class’ food safety, with leadership spearheading transformative change.

Kranghand points out that many food businesses currently operate with a traditional, compliance-centric approach to food safety. He stresses the need for organizations to evaluate their processes, identify gaps, and harmonize a risk-based approach before embracing advanced technologies.

LRQA, to support organizations in cultivating a robust food safety culture, recommends frameworks such as the Food Safety System Certification (FSSC 22000) and supply chain integrity programs. These frameworks aim to strike a balance between compliance and a holistic perspective, guiding companies toward comprehensive safety practices.

Recognizing the importance of employee engagement, Kranghand asserts, “For an effective food safety culture, implementation requires employee engagement. It’s about clearly explaining not just what staff need to do, but why these protocols matter and what the consequences of falling short are.”

He envisions a cultural framework coupled with technologies providing end-to-end traceability, transforming risk analysis from reactive to proactive in the pursuit of a safer and more transparent food industry.

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