Technology's Impact on Food Safety in a Post-Pandemic World

Aug. 10, 2022
Auchan's Pierre de Ginestel explains how the food industry will be able to overcome safety challenges left behind by the pandemic, particularly when it comes to traceability and transparency.

The food industry has faced enormous challenges over the past two years, with the pandemic changing the landscape of food safety dramatically. Major challenges have arisen that will have a knock-on effect on how we meet the needs of a growing global population and ensure access to safe food for everyone.

Two years of lockdowns and supply chain challenges around the world led to huge changes in how we share information across supply chains. Food safety team members could not visit sites and share information in the same way they could before. The industry adapted to overcome this with certain measures and new technology that separated each member of the supply chain, but that cannot substitute for a return to face-to-face knowledge sharing.

If we are to overcome these challenges, we must reconnect with our supply chain colleagues and share even more information than before. We need to help improve the knowledge of teams across the supply chain and prioritize learning and development.

GFSI, the Global Food Safety Initiative, has created food safety standards enforced by third-party certifiers throughout the world. To see information from this past March’s conference and to get an early look at next year’s conference April 25-27 in Atlanta, visit the website

The same technology that helped us adapt over the past two years has meant that more information than ever is accessible and expected by the consumer, and rightly so. The challenge is how we qualify and certify the deluge of information consumers now receive. This is a new challenge that needs quick work and for the industry to come together to solve it.

A key example of this is the consumer goods industry’s use of blockchain. We’ve seen a huge amount of development behind the application of blockchain for food safety over the last few years, but as a sector there is no shared or common approach to its application or use. By converging systems and sharing them along the supply chain we can improve transparency and make complex information more easily digestible for consumers.

This year the industry did reconnect in person at GFSI Conference in Barcelona in March. My priority was using the opportunity to share and learn with others across the industry. While many individuals, companies and organizations share the goal of delivering safe food, the extensive collaboration and dialogues that are so critical to achieving it were key factors in this year’s conference. Opportunities to share knowledge with our peers across the industry are rare, and so must be seized when they come about.

By coming together, we can develop solutions to being more accurate in the information that is circulated with each other and with consumers. We can work together to increase traceability and transparency from farm to fork and communicate that with our consumers. Importantly, we can build connections and motivation. By sharing our experiences with each other we can progress the food safety industry as a whole – a win-win for businesses and consumers alike.

There are no issues that can be managed purely through new technologies, and we can’t deal with the major issues affecting food safety alone. No longer is food safety a competitive issue for companies with information so readily and widely available for consumers, particularly in the age of social media. We must share knowledge and gather competencies to address these risks. Every company can and should be part of the journey to improving traceability and transparency in the food safety industry for the consumers we serve.

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