Money & Company

Tracking the market and economic trends
that shape your finances.

« Previous Post | Money & Company Home | Next Post »

Traceability key to food safety, cautions Institute of Food Technologists

October 5, 2010 | 10:00 am

With the recent food-safety scandal over tainted eggs, there's a ton of talk right now over how to better track the path the public's food takes between the farm and your fork.

The researchers over at the Institute of Food Technologists, in fact, had submitted a thorough list of recommendations to the Food and Drug Administration this spring -- and had highlighted the need for better traceability in the nation's food system.

The recommendations from the IFT's report included:

  • Creating a standard list of key data or information to be collected.
  • Standardization of formats for expressing the information.
  • Identifying all the points in the food chain where food travels and information should be collected.
  • Ensuring that comprehensive record-keeping be accessible electronically.

(The full report can be found here.)

Though  various efforts currently are being used to track the path our food travels, the overall result is a system that is unwieldy and fraught with misinformation. Even language can cause confusion.

“You have a package of tomatoes at the store and you’d think everyone in the supply chain would just call them tomatoes, right? Wrong,” said Andy Furner, vice president of business development for Trace Register, a Web-based software firm in Seattle.

“A farmer might record them as heirloom tomatoes,” Furner said. “The packer might classify it as a ‘Category A’ tomato. The retailer calls it ‘six red tomatoes.’ That’s not to mention the different lot codes that are used at every step in the supply chain. We’re all talking about the same product, but you’d never know it.”

To learn more about what steps the tech world is taking in the agricultural field, read the L.A. Times story here.

Or, to see a video outlining some of the key issues, check out the video below.


-- P.J. Huffstutter