Consumer trust is irreparably damaged by food safety breaches, as any one breach poses a major health risk. A 2014 estimate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated the direct and indirect costs driven by illnesses caused by major foodborne pathogens at $15.6 billion per year. A more recent study, estimated the cost of all foodborne illnesses to be $55.5 billion.
56% of recalls are due to preventable operational errors, food fraud, and corruption, rather than biological causes. The entire process, is colored by inefficiencies beyond just those that cause the breaches in the first place, especially when it comes to pinpointing and tracking the origin of breaches.
Some of the myriad challenges facing the food industry are listed below.
- Food fraud e.g. mislabelling ingredients as occurred in Europe in 2013 when horse meat was found in various products
- A dearth of real-time data on the movements of food, making it difficult to track food to its origin and identify products at risk
- Enforcements and Regulations are out of step with a growingly interconnected and industrialized supply chain
Food safety is an issue that, if handled incorrectly, can wreak significant havoc on all stakeholders.