How one company is making your food safer with the IoT

IBM Think Food Safety

Few things are as critical to the survival of the human race as food safety. From pasteurization to refrigeration, every advance in food safety keeps people healthier and safer.

But our modern systems are far from perfect. According to Health.gov, foodborne illnesses affect 48 million Americans, lead to 128,000 hospitalizations, and result in 3,000 deaths each year. There’s a lot of room for improvement, and Golden State Foods (GSF) is making it their mission to help close that gap through innovation.

To other enterprises in the food industry, “innovation” might just be a buzzword that means exotic menus, cocktails in jam jars, or pickling unusual foods, but GSF has a more technical approach. They use the Internet of Things (IoT) to ensure transparency across their entire supply chain, enabling them to maintain unprecedented awareness of their food quality and safety.

GSF produces and ships food in immense quantities. To give you an idea of how massive their operations are, they produce 400,000 hamburger patties every hour. To get that food to your mouth, they have a fleet of more than 2,000 trucks and various other shipping methods supplying 125,000 restaurants in over 60 countries, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Taco Bell, and countless others. So, if you’ve been thinking to yourself, “I’ve never eaten anything from Golden State Foods,” you’re probably mistaken.

In that massive network of kitchens, trucks, and restaurants, there are countless things to keep watch over. Throughout the food’s journey, sufficiently cold temperatures must be maintained in order to prevent the growth of dangerous microorganisms. That cold chain is a fragile system that demands vigilance and consistency. Unfortunately, machines can break down or malfunction. When that happens without anybody’s knowledge, it’s a safety hazard. But with GSF’s envisioned new IoT-enabled supply chain, sensor data could be collected at every moment of the food’s journey and analyzed in real time by the IBM Watson IoT Platform, ensuring that issues are automatically reported and addressed before they cause bigger problems down the line.

GSF’s knack for innovation doesn’t stop at the supply chain. Their Connected Restaurant project uses IBM’s Connected Store solutions to revolutionize the way restaurants maintain food safety and freshness. Door hinge sensors, digital signage, and with the future plan to include shelf weight sensors, gesture recognition, and Wi-Fi tags collect valuable data that help managers understand how their restaurants consume energy, manage inventory, and keep clean — even helping them identify ways to do those things better. Most importantly, temperature sensors in food storage facilities trigger alerts if food reaches an unsafe temperature, prompting workers to make corrections immediately that will ensure food safety.

This is why the Internet of Things is the perfect representation of how technology can dramatically enhance human expertise. For centuries, the most meticulous mechanics and engineers have worked with the most brilliant machines of their time, but history is riddled with examples of catastrophic consequences resulting from seemingly unavoidable knowledge gaps. But with a constant flow of sensor data and a platform that’s smart and fast enough to process that information, IoT gives us the capacity to have complete, real-time visibility into every physical thing we interact with in the world.

Whether you’ve already begun implementing connected devices or you’re seeking an IoT solution for your business, join IBM at Think 2018, taking place March 19-22 in Las Vegas. Meet with hundreds of experts and thought leaders from the world of IoT, and gain visibility into your business-critical machines and processes.

Visit the Business and AI Campus to learn more.

This post is sponsor content from IBM and was created by IBM and Insider Studios.

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