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Bar Coding and RFID Enable Food Supply Chain Traceability and Safety

Posted March 22, 2012

In the early days of bar coding, an Efficient Foodservice Response (EFR) study identified $847 million in savings potentially available by expanding bar coding within the food supply chain. Since then, the U.S. Bioterrorism Act, European Union Food Law, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) requirements mandate improved product identification and traceability. Today, technologies, techniques, and standards exist to help organizations throughout the food supply chain gain complete traceability for safety, compliance, and business process improvement.

Momentum is growing to implement whole-chain traceability, which includes internal and external visibility, from the grower, through the distributor, to the retailer. A key industry effort is the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), which strives to achieve supply chain-wide adoption of electronic traceability of every case of produce by 2012. Once fully adopted, PTI will improve the effectiveness of current trace-back procedures while enabling common standards for future traceability systems.

This white paper examines how the food industry can take advantage of bar code and radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies to improve safety, reduce operating expenses, meet compliance requirements, and improve efficiency. It covers:

  • How bar code and RFID support compliance with regulations such as the Bioterrorism Act , EU Food Law, and The Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749)
  • Traditional uses and advantages of bar code data collection
  • Emerging technologies and standards, including Reduced Space Symbology (RSS) bar codes, Electronic Product Code (EPC) RFID technology, and the GS1 Global Traceability Standard (GS1 DataBar).

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Barcodes Could Reveal Your Food’s Credentials

Posted July 27, 2009

BarcodeFood[1]Most manufacturers already use barcodes or RFID chips to track their products. With the help of cheap cellphone and Internet access it is becoming possible to collate data from remote locations around the world and make it available to consumers in grocery stores.

In many cases, are open to the notion that transparency about the source of their food is good for business. The idea is to develop a system to prove to customers that crops are not grown on land recently occupied by tropical rainforest.

In remote regions where farmers don’t have access to computers, they can use cellphones to record the time and place the crop was harvested into an online database. Tracking systems like this should also make it easy to calculate the distance that goods travel to reach stores, allowing consumers to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions racked up by the transport of their food. Heiner Lehr of FoodReg says, “The technology is there. If a big retailer puts itself behind this, it could happen very fast.”

Original article: Barcodes could reveal your food’s credentials

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Barcodes may be key to our health

Posted April 30, 2009

BarcodeFood[1]When an outbreak of food borne illness from salmonella or E.coli contamination happens, it scares consumers and farmers alike. That’s partly due to the fact that finding the source of the bacteria can take weeks, months, even years.

Spinach, jalapenos, peanuts, pistachios are all foods that share a bad reputation due to outbreaks of bacteria like E.coli and salmonella. But some food safety experts say their problems could be solved by using barcodes.

“This is not rocket science and there are companies in the U.S. who are doing that kind of tracing system today. It’s just not required. Its not mandated,” said Caroline DeWaal, Center for the Science in the Public Interest.

DeWaal says barcodes are used for different farms and manufacturers anyway, so why not connect them from farm to fork?
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“If this barcode had a code that FDA standardized and made recognizable across the industry, the agency could more easily trace these products,” said DeWaal.

Outgoing FDA director David Acheson agrees.

“We get piles of records — it’s pieces of paper, it’s invoices. And we bring them back here and it literally is a paper and pencil exercise. And I think one of the challenges right now that we all have to face is what can we do to make this more automated?” explains David Acheson, FDA.

The answer might be to look to overseas where they’re already doing it.

“Tesco which is the third largest retailer in the world actually has a bullet proof system over in Europe and it’s going to come here,” said Phil Lempert, market analyst.

Lempert says everything the company sells is connected to a computerized barcode system.

“In a matter of seconds you’ll know everything about that product: what truck it was on, who were the names of the employees that were working in that field that day, when it was produced,” said Lempert.

But when a food borne illness breakout occurs, we look to the government for help. Establishing such a barcode tracking system will cost millions if not billions of dollars, something the government would prefer the food industry pay for.

“I would not see the federal government paying for that. The industry needs to step up to the plate and seriously look at what could they do to introduce these systems? Now I don’t think that comment will be popular because it’s going to cost,” said Acheson.

Barcodes may be key to our health

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