More than ever before, the food industry is highly regulated and globalized,  presenting significant hurdles for food manufacturers, especially as food safety measures increasingly come under the microscope.

For instance, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service, US food manufacturers recalled more than 13 million pounds of beef, pork, poultry and mixed-meat products in 2013.

Equipment suppliers, however, are building bridges to carry companies from challenges to solutions in improving food safety. Advanced packaging and processing technologies—especially enhanced track-and-trace capabilities—are helping ensure food safety throughout manufacturing lines.

At PACK EXPO International 2014 (McCormick Place, Chicago; Nov. 2–5), food manufacturers will have access to these technologies as well as plenty of opportunities to hear from the thought leaders and experts creating them with sessions at Innovation Stage.

PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, owns and produces the PACK EXPO trade show.

Technologies to enhance quality and food safety

Globalization and evolving food safety regulations create an even greater need for brand owners to be well informed and up to date on standards and equipment. A proactive approach to food safety involves investing in solutions that will reduce the risk of contamination—as well as the potential for product recalls and the resulting damage to brand integrity.

In the United States, prevention and documentation form a core principle of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Recordkeeping allows brands to gather information that can help manufacturers prevent and/or contain contamination events. For example, advanced track-and-trace solutions allow manufacturers to pinpoint a product anywhere between the packaging line and point of purchase for swifter, more effective recalls.

Increasingly, manufacturing operations are moving toward systems that retain more product information, from ingredient origins to the retail destination. Technologies that record details like product specifications, e-pedigree data, plant location, manufacture date and distribution regions empower manufacturers with information. Regardless of the specific technology—barcode, 2-D matrix codes, RFID tags or an integrated unit tracing system—track-and-trace solutions contribute to a safer supply chain, greater consumer safety and, ultimately, stronger brand integrity.

Insights on solutions

Brand owners looking for the latest innovations in food safety can map their route at North America’s largest and most comprehensive processing and packaging tradeshow, PACK EXPO International 2014, and the co-located Pharma EXPO.

The shows will provide access to 2,400 exhibitors and a wide range of educational opportunities that can help manufacturers meet business goals. On the Innovation Stage (Grand Concourse, near the entrance to the North Hall) topics will include “Food Safety in the Age of the Industrial Internet” and “Preparing to Meet Global Certification in Food Safety and Quality.”

Over in the South Hall, the Food Safety Summit Resource Center (Booth S-2962), organized by the Food Safety Summit and co-sponsored by GE Intelligent Platforms, will offer free presentations, information and one-on-one consultations with industry experts.

The Center for Trends & Technology (CTT) (Booth S–3907) will feature experts from Rockwell Automation, Grantek Systems, Cisco, Interstates Control Systems, Microsoft, Stone Technology and PMMI’s Alliance for Innovation and Operational Excellence discussing topics such as “Machine Safety—How Safety and Productivity Are Complementary,” “Security Control Networks, Remote Support and the IoT” and “Line Optimization/Performance—Turning Plant Floor Data Into Actionable Information.”

To register for PACK EXPO International 2014, co-located with Pharma EXPO, visit