We need to find new ways to manage food safety — and the evidence to support this is increasing at a rapid rate. The world’s population is currently growing by 80 million people a year, with the global population forecast to expand to a staggering 8.6 billion by 2030. By 2050 according to the World Resource Institute, we’re going to need to close a 70% gap in food calories from where we are today – making sustainability extraordinarily challenging.
Ever-growing challenges within the food industry
Changes across global markets in consumption and taste also pose fresh production challenges. Manufacturing and processing is already shifting to emerging economies to be close to a growing consumer base — and on top of this, we’re also wasting a lot of the food we produce. Currently almost ⅓ of food production (1.3bn tonnes per year) is wasted through a variety of reasons such as poor management, contamination and pest infestations.
Inevitably, all of these complex trends are creating greater pressure on agriculture, production and the supply chain to ensure that food produced to meet this growing demand is safe. Yet despite significant improvement in food safety generally across the industry, 600,000 people currently fall ill.
How we can move forward in food safety
GFSI and other organisations have led the way in progressing food safety globally, particularly by promoting improved cross-industry collaboration. Nevertheless, there is still more that can be done to collectively focus on issues that affect food safety.
One example of this issue is pest control. Rodents carry a huge range of bacteria, viruses and parasites — currently, the UN believes that rats destroy more than 42m tons of food ($30BN) a year.
On the other hand, we can also expect a potential increase in fly populations of 244% by 2080, and in parallel to this, an increase in fly borne diseases that will affect food production and safety.
To put things into perspective; globally we are now seeing that at any one time, 22% of facilities in the food industry have a recorded issue of pest activity. From impacting food safety, to public trust and revenue, the consequences for businesses when pest infestation takes hold can be devastating. So, what can be done however to ensure that the ever-growing challenges of a growing population, supply chain complexity and expanding pest problems don’t overwhelm the food industry?
Leveraging technology has never been more vital to food safety
At Rentokil Initial, by embracing technology, new science, innovation and big data analysis we are leading this fight. Our aim is to use this approach to provide greater insight into pest problems and ultimately develop highly effective solutions that support greater compliance of PRPs, and ensure timely interventions.
One way we are doing this is with the ground-breaking development of a highly advanced digital pest control solutions based on new technologies utilising the internet of things, which allows businesses to protect facilities 24/7, 365 days a year. The system, PestConnect, remotely detects, captures or humanely kills a variety of pests and provides immediate alerts and a rapid response from skilled technicians. PestConnect already monitors over 50,000 connected devices globally, generating over 25 million messages and alerts a year.
All of this information is then recorded on the secure myRentokil portal – a unique, online reporting system that enables organisations to identify new risks across their operations in real-time. We are also using the data we collect and aggregating it with other sources such as temperature and rainfall, to support big data analytics and predictive modelling that further supports food businesses.
As a result, we are starting to identify client sites that could be particularly vulnerable to infestations and supporting them more effectively with early interventions and tailored site solutions.