The recent egg recall underscores the highly complicated and fragmented infrastructure of our food safety system. It has become increasingly apparent that we need to improve capabilities for identifying and containing outbreaks earlier. Many argue that this will require more comprehensive traceability across the system and coordination among the 15 different federal agencies tasked with oversight.
In this post I share some of the innovative web and technology-based approaches that both government and businesses are exploring to help improve coordination and dissemination of information.
Food Safety News: Newspaper that uses the web to empower the food safety community by reporting on and aggregating information about food safety issues from across the country. The Web-based newspaper has an excellent post that highlights how the United States Food and Agriculture Agencies are using social media to disseminate food safety information.
Farmsphere: Social Food Traceability website whose aim is to improve traceability by providing a platform for real-time interaction between consumers and the various parties involved with the production and distribution of food items.
TRACE: Five year project sponsored by the European Commission whose goal was to improve health by providing consumers with better traceability information. The outcome has been the development of their Tracing Your Food website, which allows consumers to access open source information regarding particular food items. It also provides operational, supply chain, quality assurance, and public authority decision makers with tools that make it easier to follow good traceability practices and exchange data throughout the system.
IBM: Has has piloted projects in Norway and Thailand that use RFID sensor networks and analytics to track products in real-time as they move through the supply chain. IBM food and drug safety expert, Paul Chang’s recent Huffington Post Article, Food Safety for the 21st Century, does an excellent job of articulating some of the ways that technology may be used to improve coordination within our food system and mitigate risk.
Breadcrumbs: IBM iPhone app currently in development that will provide consumers with real-time access to information about grocery items such as where and when the product was produced.
Recalls.gov: Recently released android and mobile web app that allows citizens to check and stay informed about recalled products.
HarvestMark: Website and iPhone app that provides consumers with traceability information about food products.
Clean Eats: iPhone and iPad app that aggregates data from government reports to allow consumers to easily access sanitation information about their favorite restaurants.
Food Advisor: iPhone app that gives New Yorkers access to New York City Department of Health data regarding local restaurants.
Standards and Databases:
Institute of Food Technologists (IFT): IFT in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report which recommends guidelines to improve traceability in food systems. Among their recommendations is the capture, coordination, standardization, database management, and improved accessibility of data generated throughout the supply chain.
The Global RFID Interoperability Forum for Standards (GRIFS): Project funded by the European Commission to improve collaboration and establish global interoperability of RFID standards.
FoodSafety.gov: A respository repository of federal food safety information. Federal agencies are also utilizing social media to notify the public about recalls and food safety information.
The Global RFID Interoperability Forum For Standards (GRIFS): Project funded by the European Commission to improve collaboration and establish global interoperability of RFID standards.
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