As the population increases and people’s living standards rise in vast geographical areas, recent years have seen a corresponding increase in the consumer demand for higher standards of quality in industrial food products. This demand mainly involves issues of food quality, food safety, and traceability. Governments and international authorities have begun to take charge of these social problems over the last decades, increasing production standards and setting important targets to eradicate the age-old problem of recalls of non-compliant and potentially dangerous products.
This institutional movement led during the last decades of the XX century to the birth of the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and, since those years, the RASFF organization has been carrying out initiatives and publishing product recalls putting in place efficient and shared measures for food safety. In 2017, an annual report was also introduced by the platform that aims to shed light on the scale of the product recall phenomenon within the Eurozone.
According to the 2019 report compared to 2017, recalls increased by 7%, while the most recalled products were meat, fruits, vegetables, dietary foods and supplements. During 2019, the pollutants most found were plastic, glass and metal, materials that can seriously harm health if ingested.
There are three main reasons why companies should have advanced inspection systems in place. The first is reputation and image damage. According to the most recent estimates, 15% of consumers do not buy a recalled product again and 21% do not buy any product from the same brand. The second is the economic one, in fact in the US food contamination costs producers +50 USD/bn every year, and a recalled product can be the cause of economic damage ranging from 10 USD/mln to 100 USD/bn. The third and perhaps most important is the environmental one if we consider that recalling a single can of tomato costs the planet 223 liters of water.
In order to ensure more effective controls, it is necessary to correctly position the inspection machine within the production chain. Current inspection systems can be positioned at the beginning of the production chain, but also at the end. And only the most advanced ones, such as XSpectraⓇ, can also guarantee control over the packaging to eliminate all risks.
Equipping food companies with a state-of-the-art inspection system is an investment in the future because public opinion and legislators have their eyes on companies operating in the food sector. But it is not only a social investment but also an economic and environmental one. Economic because the volume of business in the food inspection industry is estimated to grow 7.7% annually through 2030 when it is estimated to be worth $17 billion. Environmental because the more products that are wasted, the greater will be the impact on terrestrial ecosystems and human living conditions.