A holistic approach to food safety across the dairy industry

For ages, milk and dairy products have been a staple of the diet of young and old around the world. In fact, milk contains nine essential nutrients, making it one of the most nutritious beverages one can enjoy. But, in order to track milk production on a global level, regional trends need to be monitored and understood.

As a major market, the dairy scene contains many elements that can affect its condition and growth over time. An event such as the current COVID-19 pandemic is accompanied by an increase in incidents, therefore a need towards ensuring a safe market and securing an essential food safety policy is formed. In response to this, the recurring data itself can be held as a pivot into ensuring security and refining product quality assurance.

In our previous article, we discussed the safety of the dairy supply chain. In particular, our data shows that among the milk and milk categories, cheese is the largest culprit of dairy safety incidents.

Impact of COVID-19 on the dairy industry

In addition to biological hazards, the dairy industry’s challenges have intensified as a result of COVID-19. The global pandemic has caused obstacles to the dairy supply chain with an increased need for remote assessment due to social distancing and illness, causing an inability to make physical inspections by food safety and quality assurance professionals.

As a result of COVID-19, there has been an acceleration of digitization with food safety professionals using remote, digital technologies to conduct assessments to ensure the safety of the dairy supply chain and to drive business resilience.

Insights on milk

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has reshaped our lives, and it is now more than ever essential for dairy businesses to be vigilant and informed of the current threats to safety across the industry.

By harnessing our data from the FOODAKAI platform, we can identify a number of food safety hazards that need to be considered – such as food recalls, border rejections, food alerts, public announcements, official information announcements, information for attention, import refusals, import alerts, enforcement reports, imported food reports and consumer advisories.

Over the last five years, the top 5 hazards for milk include Salmonella SPP., allergens, bacilus cerus, cronobacter sakazakii, and misbranding – these accounted for over half (51%) of all milk-related incidents.

Emerging hazards in key ingredients

Moreover, our data enables us to take a holistic approach to food safety across the dairy industry, highlighting emerging hazards in key ingredients. These include hazards related to fruit and vegetables, cereals, sugar and syrups, additives, botanical extracts, and food colors.

Data analysis from our platform for incidents taking place between 2019 and 2020, shows that overall the highest number of incidents are linked to fruit and vegetables with a total of 1,206 incidents across the two years.

The top five hazards include Listeria Monocytogenes, Aflatoxin, Ochratonix A, Chlorpyriphos, and Salmonella spp.  The country of origin with the greatest hazard is the United States. This is shortly followed by Turkey, China, Canada, and Mexico.

Cereals are another key dairy ingredient with a variety of different hazards. The most common hazards occur again in the United States, India, China, Italy, and Australia. The top 5 hazards for cereals include moulds, abnormal smell, tebuconazole, aflatoxin, and isoprothoiolane, with a total of 295 incidents over the last 2 years.

Sugar and syrups account for 18 incidents in the dairy supply chain, including the following hazards: Benzoic Acid, Unauthorised use of e950, Gluten, Composition, and milk. Taiwan is the country with the most hazards associated with sugar and syrups. This is followed by the United States, Indonesia, Thailand, and South Korea.

Finally, additives, botanical extracts, and food colors caused 27 incidents linked to milk, with hazards including Triazole, Non-Pathogenic Bacteria, eggs, and chloramphenicol.

How can we overcome these hazards?

The diversity of hazards across the dairy supply chain and the new working guidelines imposed by COVID-19 make it even more important for food safety (FS) and quality assurance (QA) professionals to get their supplier audits and risk assessments right the first time.

New systems and tools can be used to facilitate remote working and risk assessment, ensuring that all checks are in place to keep food safe.

FS and QA professionals within the dairy industry can use a food safety intelligence platform to stay informed of the emerging hazard landscape. The platform creates sophisticated taxonomies, ensuring tailor-made insights and analysis without pre-requisite technical knowledge. These technologies warn food safety professionals against biological or chemical hazards, flagging specific countries, organizations, or subsidiaries that could put food safety at risk.

By using digital services and tools, like big data analytics and machine learning algorithms, food safety professionals can access better intelligence to make decisions throughout every part of the supply chain, without needing to be there in person – protecting themselves and their loved ones from the spread of a highly contagious virus.

If you’d like to discover how FOODAKAI can help your Food Safety & Quality team prevent product recalls by monitoring & predicting risks, schedule a call with us!