How Technology Can Help Tackle Food Waste!

Tackle Food Waste

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How to tackle food waste is a major issue in this country, but it is one that is thankfully gaining more attention. It is estimated that $161 billion worth of food is wasted every year in America, and about 30% to 40% of our food supply goes to waste.

These are harrowing numbers, especially when considering the number of people in this country that deal with food insecurity and the toll food waste takes on the environment. A lot of this waste is caused by inefficiencies in the supply chain.

Let’s take a look at a few ways technology could help tackle this growing problem.

Better Temperature Monitoring Through Smart Freezer Alarms

Maintaining food at a steady temperature is one of the main tenets of food safety. Frozen needs to stay frozen and refrigerated foods have to be kept under a certain temperature for them to not become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Maintaining frozen foods or fresh products within a precise temperature range during storage and transportation is very difficult, however. But technology has a solution in the form of smart freezer alarms.

Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to leave the door of a walk-in freezer or refrigerator open for food temperature to get into unsafe territories. This happens more often than people want to admit. In many cases, managers will decide to simply close the door and act like nothing happened or waste items as a precautionary measure. 

Smart freezer alarms could help solve this problem by alerting managers when the temperature of a freezer is above or below the safe range. This would let them know when there’s an issue whether it’s an open door or one of the freezer’s components failing.

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This would allow them to fix the issue quickly and prevent food from thawing. It will also let them know for how long the temperature was below the recommended temperature and if the food was compromised.

All food manufacturers and warehousing facilities should consider using freezer alarms in their operation to not only limit waste, but reduce costs and ensure the public’s safety as well. If you want to look at a few units, you can check out Weather Station Advisor. They rank the top smart freezer monitoring systems on the market and offer a few tips on how to choose the best one for you.

Avoid Distribution Delays with Better Tracking

Inefficient transport monitoring is one of the main reasons for delays and waste, especially when it comes to perishables, and this is unfortunately deficient for many businesses. As a matter of fact, one study found that only 30% of businesses had a clear vision of their moving goods.

This is a major issue, but it is one that can be fixed by using advanced transport routing systems. Efficient routing systems can help food companies maximize load capacity and better plan routes based on things like road conditions, weather conditions, and traffic, among others. 

Using Biometrics to Improve Food Appearance

One surprising reason why so much food goes to waste in the country is that it is not considered appealing enough to serve to the public. Lots of produce is wasted because it doesn’t meet the aesthetic standards of retailers, which is a tragedy.

One solution to this problem could come in the form of biometrics. For instance, California-based Apeel Sciences is working on an invisible edible film that will help slow down food degradation and allow produce to look fresh for longer. On the other hand, Chicago-based Hazel Technologies has developed a packet that could be added to packaging to ward off bacteria and mold. 

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Advanced Food Labeling

Food labeling in the country is still very archaic and confusing. People often confuse “best by” dates with expiration dates and waste food while it is still consumable. However, researchers have developed technology that can indicate the state of a food item better by reacting to chemical changes inside the packaging.

The technology was created by a student named Solveiga Pakstaite and uses a gel that reacts to the compounds that are released during food degradation. She has received many accolades and additional funding to further test the technology in the hopes of curbing food waste at the supermarket level.

Using Software to Coordinate Donations

Back-of-store solutions can also be used to better coordinate efforts between restaurants and charities that redistribute leftovers. There are apps like the Food Cloud App, for instance, which can be used by restaurants and grocery stores to input information about surplus supplies and a set period within which items can be picked up for redistribution.

The app then alerts registered charities who can pick up items on a first come first serve basis.

Technology could be the solution to the problem of waste in food distribution both in America and the world. We hope to see more solutions being implemented and more food manufacturers and retailers acting on the issue. Technology can clearly help tackle food waste.

Tackle food waste article and permission to publish here provided by Boris Dzhingharov. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on November 5, 2021.
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