There’s a need in America for accessible, healthy food. Technology is facilitating new research, generating more data and improving the food industry, and with the latest innovations, more people have quicker and healthier options. In some regions, however, the population finds it difficult to access nutritious food. Resultingly, health advocates and legislators are using technology to help people make better food choices and maintain the integrity of available food supplies.

The following sections highlight 3 ways that technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) are transforming the food industry.

Change 1: Increased Availability of Health and Safety Information

Technological innovations allow researchers to find out new things about nutrition. As an example, big data technology allows researchers to discover important health-related food facts that were previously elusive. As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued updated notices about which consumable items the agency now endorses as healthy food choices. Excessive sugar, for example, is now labeled as a potential threat to public wellness. In response, the FDA has launched public initiatives the urge consumers to monitor and manage their sugar intake.

The FDA also requires companies that generate more than $1 million annually to maintain detailed food safety records. Additionally, food transportation enterprises must always have the previous 12 months transport and training records on hand. Many of these companies still use paper records, but the food industry is primed for a transformation as big data technology quickly makes its way through the ranks of America’s industries. In addition, the IoT will give food production and transportation firms an unprecedented ability to monitor goods and reassess their operations. Furthermore, food enterprises will be able to streamline the handling of perishable goods with the detailed insights offered by big data technology and the IoT.

Change 2: Reduced Food Waste

American consumers discard an average of 40-percent of all food purchases. Entrepreneurs see this as an opportunity to solve a problem. As a result, forward-thinking business leaders are looking for ways to streamline food production and reduce consumer waste. One firm, Froozer, makes it products using fruit that’s aesthetically unappealing or overripe. The enterprise views this as a way to make use of consumable items that would normally go to waste.

Worldwide, a third of all food goes to waste. In addition to consumer waste, food that’s compromised during transport also contributes to the waste problem. IoT-connected resources such as centralized cloud-computing, real-time tracking and food safety checkpoints can reduce waste. These technologies give food enterprises the ability to revise operations based on detailed historical data. If, for instance, a food item occasionally spoils before reaching its destination, producers can reduce the shelf life of that item to makes sure it remains consumable.

Change 3: Enhanced Nutritional Information

Consumers now have more information about healthy food choices. The proliferation of nutrition and dietary apps makes it easier for consumers to understand how their food choices impact their health. Technology has created accountably in world where food producers could once easily market food for profit without regard for public health consequences. Social media and smartphones have empowered consumers with the ability to learn about the effects that certain foods and ingredients have on their bodies.

Sensors, Internet-connectivity and the ability to communicate autonomously have ushered the dawn of a new era. These technologies are the building blocks of the Internet of Things (IoT). Analysts forecast that consumers and businesses will have 50 billion devices connected to the IoT by the year 2020, and food companies are recognizing that it’s a powerful tool for improving operations, product quality and safety. With this kind of potential, the technology is certain to become the next big field in business.

There’s an increasing need for educational programs that teach consumers about healthy eating choices and empower consumers to make more informed decisions about the consumable items that they put into their bodies. Nutrition education helps to increase consumers’ awareness of the benefits of making healthy food choices. Heath care professionals in the United States have developed a new focus on preventative care. From nutrition specialists to nurses, medical professionals are urging consumers and patients to adopt healthy behaviors. This starts with educating young minds about healthy food choices as well as providing ongoing training and goal-setting for patients.

As technology evolves, healthy eating will continue to become easier and increasingly accessible. Consumers will have the ability to access healthy foods quickly, and the American population will have the capability to enjoy better overall health.