From farm to fork and everything in between, technology is making the world’s oldest industry one of its most advanced.
Until the pandemic hit, fully half the money Americans spent on food was spent at restaurants rather than for home meals. Luxury homes are often equipped with two kitchens – one for show, and one for the household staff to use in actual food preparation. Previously unheard-of food-borne illnesses, such as allergies to peanuts, gluten or lactose, are now routine. And everywhere, the expectations of food quality are consistently higher than those of an earlier generation where food-related poisoning and illness were common.
That doesn’t mean mishaps don’t occur today. They do. Salmonella, norovirus, E.coli and listeria haven’t gone away. Just between January and March 2020, for example, the FDA issued 141 food recalls affecting 8.8 million units of food. During the second quarter of 2020, there were 79 recalls, affecting more than 7.8 million product units. Undeclared allergens, including mold and bacteria, were the top reasons for FDA food recalls. Although produce was the product category most affected in terms of the number of recalls during the second quarter, recalls of prepared foods affected more units. And in just the first half of 2020, USDA-required recalls affected about 700,000 pounds of meat, the equivalent of approximately 500 fully-grown cattle1.