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Important Techniques to Control Food Inventory

Inventory control in the food industry is quite different from that in other industries. Food products are often perishable and have a limited shelf life, thus there is a need to comply with food safety and health standards. The most appropriate techniques must be in place to manage the supply chain including tracking each batch during manufacturing, packaging and delivery while ensuring safety of goods for consumers at every stage. Without the right techniques to control inventory, there is a high risk of running out of stock, having excess and obsolete stock, or facing spoilage.

Batch Number Tracking

There is always a constant risk of contamination at any stage of the supply chain for Food and Beverage (F&B) businesses Perishable products, especially fresh produce, are particularly susceptible to spoilage due to improper storage. In the event of contamination or spoilage, the company must be ready to run a recall for the affected products. The batch number tracking technique is one method which can help food businesses when they want to recall contaminated food products. The major causes of food poisoning are bacteria like Salmonella, Botulism or E. Coli which have led to product recalls in countries all over the world. For example, in 2015, 19 people across the U.S. suffered from food poisoning caused by E. Coli after eating at Costco’s rotisserie chicken salad and the farm responsible issued a recall of all affected products. Health officials released warnings to Costco’s customers to check any uneaten salads with a label numbered 37719 and consumers were advised to throw it away. Costco’s ability to pin down the contaminated salads to batch number 3771 was because the batch number was clearly printed on the container.

The most important step in dealing with a food recall is a prompt and effective response. Batch tracking capabilities must always take a proactive approach to product recalls, particularly in a food manufacturing or wholesaler business. When the company can find where the affected food products are and take measures to speed up the process, it can nip the problem in the bud before it reaches the end customer. This minimizes damage to the reputation of a brand, which is essential to a positive long-term relationship with food retailers.

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Maureen Chin Hui Mei, DPSM
Maureen Chin Hui Mei has substantive years of experience in the specialised field of procurement and customer service, and specifically in the Food industry. Maureen is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). She completed the Diploma in Procurement and Supply Management (DPSM) on June 2021 at SIPMM Institute.

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