Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 34 seconds

dennis harrisDennis Harrison of GS1 Food Services talks with Scott Koegler at GS1 Connect 2012 in Las Vegas, about initiatives underway to increase food safety and product information for food products destined for restaurants, institutions, and other crate-level delivery users.



Transcription of the video follows:

Scott Koegler:  I’m Scott Koegler.  I’m with GS1 Connect for 2012.  I'm with Dennis Harrison GS1 and we’re going to talk about food services; the processes, the initiatives about getting the barcode on the product right?

Dennis Harrison: Very good.

Scott Koegler: The easy stuff and the hard stuff.

Dennis Harrison: Well Scott, let me tell you first of all what the initiative is all about. The initiative is, the food service community came to us and said that there's three things that they would like to achieve by 2015. The first item was to improve the efficiency in the food service supply chain. The second item was to increase the amount of information, we call it product attributes; what about the product does the consumer want to know; things like the nutritional values and allergens and the third item that they have asked us to help with is to improve food safety making sure that we are setting up systems for traceability. We've been working at this now since 2009 and we are going on our third-year and it's been very successful in getting the community to implement some of the standards. We're now running at about 55% of the manufacturing community that's adapted GS1 standards and were reaching towards a goal that was set back in 2009 of trying to get 75% of the community applying in using the standards.


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Scott Koegler: By 2015?

Dennis Harrison: By 2015.

Scott Koegler: Is that a regulatory mandate or is that internal?

Dennis Harrison: This is a industry desire.  So a industry working together saying this is what we need to do to help the industry and to make the industry a more efficient and make it a better product for the consumers.

Scott Koegler: But there is also, what is it, FSMA?

Dennis Harrison: FSMA is food safety modernization act. The food safety modernization act is an activity by the FDA. And FDA is looking at mandating traceability requirements.

Scott Koegler: So this is in sync with it?

Dennis Harrison: It's in sync with it but the initiative is not driven by that. Everything that we're doing in the initiative, we want to make sure that we can support the FSMA. 

Scott Koegler: So eventually the initiative will basically enable the automation of the future business?

Dennis Harrison: Absolutely, let me tell you how it does that. There are actually three standards that we use in GS1 for food service. One is:  GTIN; it is identifying products with a unique number. We have what's called a global location number; where it's identifying locations with a unique number. We have what is called global data synchronization network, which the easiest way to think about that is, it's a database that we can take the items that we have identified; all of those products with unique numbers that will tell you exactly what the item is. So we list all of the -- we call it attributes. All of the characteristics of the product; the weight, the dimensions, nutritional allergens, etc. Now taking those elements, we can now begin to put together traceability systems; we can now begin to meet the government requirements. We know what the product is. We know we're it was shipped. We know exactly all the attributes about the products. So this is will help us with the FSMA.

Scott Koegler:  Okay. Great. We also started to talk about some of the challenges and the acceptance because you said you got a pretty good acceptance with all those people that is already on board with GS1.

Dennis Harrison: Yes. The challenges that we run into, it's kind of interesting. When you start doing this, first of all, you have to change processes, you have to change systems; and change is always tough. But one of the things that, as more demand for information occurs, it makes it more difficult for manufacturers who have to supply that information to get the information. Let me give you an example. If you go into the grocery store, you buy a can of soda, it has a UPC code: that is a G10 on the product; it tells you that it's a can of soda. It tells you what kind of soda it is. If we want to now understand the production date, or the lot number or the serial number that's associated with that can of soda; easy to do. You can capture that information; however, putting that information on the products is difficult for the manufacturer. Now the manufacturer has to understand when the lot has changed; he has to change the labeling when the lot has changed. So there are things that the manufacturer has to do that maybe they didn't do before. So there is expense; and there are difficulties in making that happen. But the consumers are demanding this information more and more when if we can get this information on the product, it can help us with traceability. It helps us in the entire system so it's something that eventually I think you're going to see it being required. Where going to have to adjust and start complying.

Scott Koegler: When you see people walking around with their smart phones and you go into a retail store of any kind and they are looking at hard-good products, they expect to see not only the products but who said what about it and see if they can get it cheaper. That also happens in boxed food, right?

Dennis Harrison: Exactly.

Scott Koegler: It probably doesn’t happen that much in fresh food but I guess that's kind of the goal for the consumer?

Dennis Harrison: Well when consumers go into restaurants today, they want to know, does it contain gluten? Does it contain peanuts? You're starting to get people asking with fish, some restaurants are saying where does the fish come from? Which ocean? Which part of the ocean? Who caught the fish?

Scott Koegler: And did he wash his hands first?

Dennis Harrison: So you have a lot of desire nowadays to know a lot of things and again, it takes effort to gather the information. But this is what the consumer wants. This helps in selling products. It's not going away.

Scott Koegler: Right. Good luck in putting the final pieces together.

Last modified on Saturday, 07 July 2012
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