The founding principle of any food safety plan is the identification of hazards that introduce food safety risk. At Rentokil Initial we have over 90 years’ experience of dealing with those hazards and see the enormous commercial impact that poor practices can cause if left unchecked.
Right now, we’re in the process of piloting and introducing new connected technologies that enable 24/7 active monitoring and support even earlier and more decisive interventions. But what’s also really interesting is that these solutions enable us to collect global data that provides valuable new insight.
In this article we discuss how this insight shows that food safety risk can be much reduced by addressing basic housekeeping, hygiene and sanitation practices.
Our new insight is being derived from PestConnect, a range of connected solutions we’ve developed that detect, capture or kill pests and alert a rapid response to identify the source of the infestation and enable us to take any further action required to eliminate it.
More than that, PestConnect solutions also provide data that our customers can access 24/7 and use to make more intelligent interventions on prevention. Crucially, this data is then incorporated into our global big data and analysis system, helping organisations to take a much more proactive approach to managing food safety risk across global supply chains.
myRentokil, our online pest management reporting and analysis system, is fully integrated with PestConnect and provides our customers with trend reporting, recommendations, interactive maps and analytic tools which support food safety audits. It also links pest activity to location and recommendations which extend across thousands of businesses globally. This means we get a unique perspective and can create real insight on issues and their causes.
For example, we can look at the 200,000 observations and recommendations we made last year across 20,000 customers within food supply chains across 27 countries. Interestingly our global figures show that nearly a quarter of sites involved in a food supply chain at any point of time reported some sort of pest activity. As these elements are brought together to create a totally integrated supply chain, the associated risks compound and increase.
Our big data analysis also shows that of those 200,000 recommendations, 46% were related to sanitation/hygiene, 19% to business integrity (proofing), 6% to storage/racking and the remaining 30% to other factors. Interestingly, our figures not only correlate directly with non-conformances reported by the major food auditing standards bodies but also show clearly what food businesses should be focusing on to meet global compliance standards.
Of course, defining control points and control measures that minimise risks for each point will always be key to food safety plans. But our analysis shows definitively how investing more effort into improving the performance of the basic prerequisite programmes across the extended supply chain could also have a significant impact in reducing food safety risks.
We have also applied the same approach (i.e. combining connected technologies with better use of data) to tackle hand hygiene, which is another cornerstone of an effective PRP.
This helps tackle a long standing problem. It’s long been known that hand contact with food is a common mechanism by which pathogens potentially enter the food supply chain. Until recently, however, there has been no easy method available to routinely monitor hand washing, which makes this a difficult element of any prerequisite programme to manage and enforce.
Again, we’re solving the problem through modern technology. Our HygieneConnect solution is a system of connected devices that enables users and management to see the most up-to-date hand wash compliance percentages of a specified area, 24 hours a day. Unlike human observation, the system is able to monitor hand washing behaviours anonymously and feedback performance data to users visually without interrupting day-to-day operations.
It’s proving to be highly effective. HygieneConnect is already installed in a number of forward-thinking food processing companies to monitor critical hand washing areas such as washing points at the production entrances and in washroom facilities used by production workers. These businesses are now seeing some spectacular improvements. On average, hand washing has improved from 46% compliance to 70% compliance – an uplift of 52%. A number of our customers are now showing over 85% compliance.
Businesses clearly require a rigorous approach to pest and hygiene management the more complex their supply chains get. With the use of wireless technology and data, our customers are not only showing this is possible, it is also highly achievable.
At Rentokil Initial, we believe that supporting food manufacturers to monitor and prevent risks, keep records and verify compliance enables companies to protect their brand reputation and avoid significant commercial loss.
Join us at GFSI Global Food Safety Conference on March 3rd for our special session (starting 8am) on this highly current and critical topic. We’ll provide detailed evidence of how emerging technologies, when applied to pest and hygiene management, contribute directly to food safety hygiene programmes.
Written and contributed by: