The internet of things can extend to the food safety world. First, the internet of things (IoT) is network of computer devises that connect together to transfer data. The data transfer can occur without human intervention. How can that help retail-foodservice food safety? Let’s recap the five major risk factors for foodborne illness as described by FDA in the Food Code.
Improper hot/cold holding temperatures of potentially hazardous food
Improper cooking temperatures of food
Dirty and/or contaminated utensils and equipment
Poor employee health and hygiene
Food from unsafe sources
There are two types of IoT devises. The first is the temperature datalogger. This devise will monitor temperature 24/7. The most effective types automatically sync their data to a computer. These devises are most effective for cold holding and can be used for hot holding as well. The second temperature devise is the bluetooth thermometer. This IoT devise is most suited to taking the temperature of a food and transmitting the data to a software program.
Clean and sanitary equipment is a little harder to monitor using IoT. One example would be monitoring the temperature of a hot water automatic dish machine. Sensors could also be used to notify management when detergent or rinse-aid chemicals are depleted.
Handwashing has long been a target for IoT. There are many different technologies, but most are only partly effective. One example is using a vibration sensor on a water pipe of a hand sink. This sensor can record vibration events and if they are assumed to equate to handwash events, they can be counted and related to time of day. Another example is to monitor soap dispenser use. Each use is equated to one handwash.
Currently there is a new effort at using enhanced UPC label codes called GS1. This system would allow an operator to scan their food items (shipments, pallets, boxes, item) labels. Working with a software database, the operator can determine if that food was purchased from an approved supplier. In a similar manner, recalls can be flagged for removal.