On the 8th October 2020, Channel 4 aired Despatches: The truth about your sandwich – did you see the documentary?
The programme was presented by Helen Skelton where she investigated Britain’s sandwich industry, including the discovery of the shocking hygiene at a major sandwich chain, unreliable nutritional advice, and dirty conditions at major production plants. You can catch up on the programme on-demand here.
The programme raised many valid points particularly when it comes to the UK sandwich industry, detailing things like the recent improvements to food labelling following a number of food-related deaths, and also that consumers have more information about the ingredients in their sandwiches.
However, what it also highlighted was the vast amount of ingredients used in sandwich production and the supply chain for raw materials, with ingredients such as chicken coming from all over the world. One major food manufacturer in the sandwich industry praised his traceability system for its vital role in the business to track ingredients and to help eliminate any potential hazards to the public.
Dangers in food production
The Channel 4 programme highlighted the dangers of food-to-go products and stated a drop in sales of two thirds for these products early COVID. It also made consumers much more aware of what they are buying and eating.
A big change to the food industry in recent times is labelling. Following a number of deaths where allergens were not declared on packaging, as well as cases of listeria which can be found in food-to-go products, now more than ever, food producers are taking extra care in the manufacturing process as well as being transparent with consumers about ingredients.
However, transparency is a controversial subject, as some food producers lack transparency, particularly where raw ingredients from across the world are used.
Food manufacturing factories
To maintain strict hygiene, consumer and supplier standards, several health and safety measures are in place within food manufacturing factories, and many producers must adhere to standards set by auditing bodies, as well as supermarkets and retailers. Food factories have hygiene ratings as well as retailers.
As well as the health and safety measures, manufacturers often heavily invest in resources to manage this, and some go one step further and invest in a traceability system.
Tom Hollands of Raynor Foods said in the programme that they “Track raw materials throughout the whole process using a very strong traceability system”.
Benefits of a traceability system
The benefits of implementing a traceability system, like Stevens Dynamic Traceability System, for example, is that manufacturers get to electronically track raw ingredients and details of where the ingredients have come from (supplier) as soon as the raw materials arrive on site. This electronic information is used and traced throughout the production process so that when finished goods (sandwiches for example) are complete, each batch can be traced back to its ingredients and supplier.
In addition, a Stevens system provides manufacturers with automated allergen controls, dictating how and when allergens are used and in what environment, for example, a separate mixing area.
When it comes to nutritional information, all data is stored electronically within the Stevens system, making product labelling a straightforward process, thus giving consumers useable information to make informed decisions when purchasing food-to-go products.
Finally, to support food manufacturers with health and safety procedures, the Stevens Traceability System can host a series of health and safety and quality assurance questions, meaning prompts will appear on weighing terminals, asking the production operative whether they have washed their hands for example. Take a look at our traceability systems website page to find out more about what else a traceability system can do for your business.