According to a recent op-ed from the Conference Board of Canada titled “Food Safety: Congratulations Canada, but don’t rest on your laurels,” public trust in the safety of our food supply is way up — 67 per cent of citizens believe their food to be safer than it was five years ago.
That’s good news. But at the same time that consumers say they’re confident the food they eat is safe, we have now entered the era of accountability, the piece notes. “Proactive behaviour, including learning from incidences outside our borders, is the new normal for all public food regulators, including Canada’s.”
Efforts to ensure food safety, such as traceability, are becoming bigger as time goes on. This trend is affecting the seed processing equipment sector in increasingly significant ways. My clients’ customers — people who purchase seed and seed products for public consumption — are looking for product that’s safe and free from contaminants, so they can be proactive and avoid food recalls and other problems, which are the food industry’s worst nightmare.
More processing facilities want to make the kinds of upgrades that put food safety at the forefront. Such upgrades often include eliminating wood from processing — older screen machines would have wooden screen frames. Older gravity separators often had wooden decks. Over time, pieces of wood could flake off and contaminate the seed. More facilities are moving to steel and aluminum and removing wood from their lines.
Many of my clients are finding their customers need to have their product run through a specific colour sorter as a final step to look for contaminants.
As time goes on, “food integrity will likely be our most significant supply chain challenge,” the Conference Board op-ed goes on to note. “With a rising consumer appetite for more information concerning the origins of their food, of production conditions and hidden ingredients due to a growing number of allergies and dietary intolerances, data in the future will need to flow freely from farm to fork.”
I see seed processors having an increasingly important role to play in that, and the key will be ensuring they stay up-to-date as far as technology goes.