How the Food Industry Can Benefit From Statistical Process Control - Part One

On Friday evening, you decided to reward your hard work by purchasing a fresh Alaskan sockeye salmon. And as a result, you have been in bed all weekend with a high fever, nausea, muscle aches and a stiff neck. You have contracted Listeria—food poisoning.

How did a trip to the grocery store result in such catastrophe? 

Listeria, which has also been discovered recently in apples, is not the only culprit that is spreading around the U.S. Recently, peanut butter and cantaloupes have been found to be tainted with salmonella. E. coli has been found hiding in the leaves of both lettuce and spinach as well.  

Steve Wise, vice president of statistical methods at InfinityQS, addresses these issues in an article titled “Boat-to-Plate Traceability.” According to Wise, a major problem of food borne illness is that about 15 percent of food consumed in the U.S. is imported, and therefore subject to less regulation. And in regards to seafood, an astounding 91 percent is imported—but only two percent is inspected. Additionally, the seafood industry is subject to mislabeling in up to 70 percent of cases. In other words, the tuna you are eating might not be tuna at all. It could in fact be escolar, which is toxic.

“Beyond cheating the customers,” explains Wise, “seafood fraud can have costly—even deadly—consequences. For example, it can threaten human health with unexpected contaminants, toxins or allergens.”

In response to these culinary issues, the FDA is looking into ways to impose stricter regulation on imported food. And as Wise describes in his article, a global quality hub is what needs to happen.

A global quality hub is the collection, input and analysis of food manufacturers’ data. The statistics that would surface in a global quality hub are referred to as manufacturing intelligence (MI). A remote database would ensure compliance, minimize IT expenditure and cover costs—all through cloud computing. Manufacturing intelligence would make consumers safer by forcing companies to pay attention to the food they are releasing.

Interested in learning about what a global quality hub can do for the food industry both at home and overseas? Stay tuned for part two of a three part series that will further examine Wise’s suggestions.  

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