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Editor's Plate: ChatGPT Wrote This Column

Oct. 2, 2023
It's both scary and intriguing how well it came up with 550 relevant words on 'food safety.'

I hope this is not some Orwellian "welcome to the future" for my job. But it may spell the end for some jobs. For others, this is just another tool that will take some getting used to, like a laptop with a new Windows operating system.

There's been plenty of discussion lately about everyday artificial intelligence programs, especially generative AI. I entered "food safety for manufacturers" into the topic field at ChatGPT, and the below is what came back:

Food safety is of utmost importance for manufacturers in the food industry to ensure that the products they produce are safe for consumption. Failure to uphold proper food safety practices can lead to serious health risks for consumers and legal consequences for the manufacturer. Here are some key principles and practices for ensuring food safety in manufacturing:

HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points): Implement a HACCP system, which is a systematic approach to identifying, evaluating, and controlling hazards that may affect food safety at various stages of production. This involves identifying critical control points (CCPs) where hazards can be controlled or eliminated.

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs): Follow GMP guidelines, which are a set of practices and procedures designed to ensure the consistent quality and safety of food products. This includes maintaining proper hygiene, cleanliness, equipment maintenance, and employee training.

Sanitation and Hygiene: Maintain a clean and sanitary production environment. Regularly clean and sanitize equipment, utensils, surfaces, and work areas to prevent contamination.

Supplier Quality Assurance: Ensure that the raw materials and ingredients you receive from suppliers meet quality and safety standards. Establish criteria for selecting and approving suppliers and conduct regular audits.

ChatGPT wrote another 383 words on the subject, including bullet points for Allergen Control, Temperature Control, Traceability, Training & Education, Quality Control & Testing, Pest Control, Water Quality, Packaging & Labeling, Recall Plan, Regulatory Compliance and Continuous Improvement. And ended with this paragraph: 

By adhering to these food safety principles, manufacturers can produce products that are safe for consumers and maintain a positive reputation in the market. It's essential to stay informed about the latest developments in food safety and remain vigilant in upholding these practices.

[The entire ChatGPT essay is readable here.]

That is at once pretty good stuff, in my estimation, but also pretty general stuff – the kind of information anyone could find with a couple of internet searches. And that's the point. That’s where ChatGPT gets its smarts, by searching the world wide web for content associated with whatever terms are typed in (or spoken, for that matter). And making some sense of it. And doing it so you don't have to.

Factor in that search was created by a first-timer (me) who's challenged by all things tech. Imagine how an expert could have guided the program.

None of that content is new or original; but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find worthy information in an advertising-influenced web search that returns 9.5 billion results in 0.43 seconds (that's a real example, by the way).

Can you imagine being a school teacher and trying to weed out AI-generated text from term papers?

I’ll be doing more exploring of generative AI in the coming months, and you probably will, too. But I will tip you off that we’ll be writing a cross-functional cover story in March of next year on the application of AI in the plant, the R&D lab and even in management and marketing.

I promise it will be written by us, not ChatGPT.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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