Whether it’s celebrating a milestone birthday or taking a casual cruise through the drive-thru, Americans prefer dining out over cooking a meal at home for the first time in history.

According to U.S. Census data, Americans spent more at bars and restaurants ($54.8 billion) last year than on groceries ($52.5 billion). Moreover, consumers have higher expectations about their dining experiences. They have come to expect fresh and diversified offerings creating a complex foodservice supply chain to deliver on the promise of more memorable experiences. Just think about how many self-proclaimed “foodies” share millions of food photos on Instagram each day!

Food Safety in a “foodie” culture

As this trend grows, one thing is for sure. American diners clearly expect food to be safe and place their trust in foodservice operators to provide a quality meal. However, foodborne illness outbreaks still happen. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 48 million people each year get sick from contaminated food in the United States alone—60% result from restaurant visits.

While there are many factors that lead to a foodborne illness outbreak (cross-contamination of food, employee illnesses), many foodservice companies are focusing their efforts on enhanced food traceability to increase confidence in the food being sold to loyal guests. To become more vigilant about food safety, the foodservice industry needs visibility and continuity of information across the supply chain. While many foodservice industry leaders recognize this as a priority, there is still much work to be done to ensure food can be tracked and traced from farm to table. Let’s explore how traceability works and what the industry is doing to ensure safety in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.

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According to U.S. Census data, Americans spent more at bars and restaurants ($54.8 billion) last year than on groceries ($52.5 billion).

How traceability works

Traceability enables foodservice trading partners to track and trace product throughout the supply chain. It involves each trading partner collecting and maintaining product information that supports, at the very least, “one up/one down” visibility of the product’s movement through the distribution channel. When trading partners effectively implement internal and external traceability processes, each traceability partner is able to identify the direct source and direct recipient of traceable items.

Beyond food safety benefits

There are additional benefits to traceability beyond enhancing food safety. Traceability programs help deliver information transparency, particularly sourcing information as “locally grown” and animal welfare information as these are increasingly sought by those dining out. A recent study from the Center for Food Integrity showed that consumers want transparency around a company’s business practices just as much as food product labeling.

Also, the collaborative work done to enhance traceability has the added benefit of streamlining operations, leading to significant internal cost savings for all trading partners.

Through collaboration on traceability, the industry is building a solid foundation to enable foodservice companies to focus on other innovations to enhance the overall experience.

Source: Food Safety Magazine

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