Looking back at 2018 – and forward

Have you ever wondered what took place over the last twelve months here at My Food Trust?

Me too, that is why I always love to look back, and stop, think, and consider all the different thoughts, experiences, goals, and milestones, we have reached over the past year. What has been happening? Why is there a need for something like this site? What have been the trend(s)? And are people reading my posts? (Spoiler: yes, you are, and all the stats and numbers are in the end of the post)

It started as thought in 2016, then became part of my online portfolio site in 2017, to get a formel name and dedicated site, My Food Trust, in 2018. It might not be the fastest growing site out there, but I love write, interview and gather information of whats happening across the globe, to assist in greater transparency and traceability of the food we eat.

Because people care. They are concerned of what we eat, and how it has come to the plate on the table. It is not that long ago that we just wanted food in our fridge, to then more sustainable sourced food, where we now want to know as much as possible. And the food industry knows it, but the change is happening at a very slow speed.

Foodtech is trending 

To get the industry to speed up, we saw rise in technology driven transparency and traceability. Particularly blockchain technology. This technology is getting the whole food industry amazed by the potentials that lies with its application. So now that the industry has opened their eyes, I look forward to a 2019 where its less talk, more implementation and real life applications thats shows improved transparency and traceability.

I could go on about Vertical Farming, NIR (Near Infrared) technology, RFID, Artificial Intelligence, etc. So 2019 is looking promising, if we can get, both new and old technologies to help farmes, production facilities, retailers, make their food supply chain even more transparent.

Why My Food Trust?

There is a urgent need for transparency. Food transparency. Almost everyday there is a incident with the food we eat, from mislabeling, fraud, adulteration, substitution, theft, false marketing, illness from food and the list goes on. This needs to change! My Food Trust will bring the stories about food fraud, new developments in tech and testing, interviews with experts, advocates for transparency and the shakers and movers on creating better transparency and traceability.

As modern consumers’, we focus on health, organic, wellness, personal nutrition, etc. Hopefully, and very soon, adopting food transparency strategies will no longer be optional. Retailers who can use in-depth data to gather new insights to foster more innovation in this area will be able to better leverage this emerging opportunity and evolve their business around transparency.

I see My Food Trust as the missing piece in a vast and complex puzzle. Highlighting and making people aware of why we always need to be critical about the food we buy. And if we don´t have the critical voice, in the back of our head, we might forget it, because we have other stuff on our minds. So My Food Trust helps to keep you reminded on the food fraud that is happening around the world, so you don´t just buy your food from looking at a pretty label.

I feel that people care about their food, and therefore should be as informed as possible, and thats why I stick with the mantra for My Food Trust – to create greater food transparency, by telling the stories of fraud and those advocating for more transparency.

I’d like to thank all the readers and followers for being a part of this small (for now) community. I am extremely grateful, and honored, that you spend your precious time on reading and commenting on the stuff I post. Thank You!

So before all the stats and numbers, I would like to hear from you. What did you particularly enjoy on My Food Trust over the past year? What would you like to see more of in 2019? Shoot me an email at kristofferjust@gmail.com or through LinkedIn or Twitter.

Happy New Year, hope 2019 will be a great one!

The stats

For all of you interested in data and numbers (incl myself), lets have a look at the stats.

  • There where 2.000+ unique pageviews for all of 2018
  • Among all the posts, the average read time was 2.45 minutes. So you are reading what we are posting, thank you!
  • Top tweet was something about frozen pizza, see it here!
  • Top LinkedIn post was an interview, see which one here!

Top 5 viewed posts

Here we have the Top 5 most read posts of 2018, so in case you missed one that everyone else have read, here is your chance to catch up.

  1. Blockchain, Provenance, Traceability and Chain of custody
  2. Interview w. Daniel Jones from Bext360
  3. Blockchain as a food supply chain
  4. Towards a transparency culture in the food chain
  5. Interview w. Nuno Soares, Food Safety Expert

Top 5 countries

You come from all across the globe, but most of you come from:

1. United States – 19,09 %
2. Denmark – 14,30 %
3. United Kingdom 10,50 %
4. China – 5,54 %
5. India – 3,88 %

Photo by Carl Raw on Unsplash

Vanilla importers must know how their vanilla is produced

Expert criticizes Danish vanilla importers who buy vanilla from Madagascar and resell it to supermarkets without knowing whether it is stolen or produced by children. That is not in line with UN guidelines, he says.

It is far from enough that Danish vanilla importers do not know where their vanilla comes from and thus how it is produced. According to Andreas Rasche, Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Copenhagen Business School (CBS).

Vanilla farmers live in deep poverty and the stolen vanilla lands on shelves in, among other things, Danish supermarkets. This is not just a Danish problem, as BBC has recently reported the same critical conditions in 2016. Vanilla farmers live in deep poverty and the stolen vanilla lands on shelves in  Danish supermarkets.

“It is the importers who are in power in deciding who in Madagascar they want to buy vanilla from. That’s why they can say no, for example, to child labor, “states Andreas Rasche.

According to the The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, companies have an obligation to know exactly where their products originate from. For vanilla, it’s all down the supply chain to every vanilla farmer, says Andreas Rasche:

“It is the only option to solve the problems in the industry. Some importers claim that it is expensive and comprehensive – but that’s the only way out. This is also what we can and should expect from the importers. ”

In the vanilla-producing Sava region in the northern part of the island nation of Madagascar, about three out of four vanilla farmers live on less than a dollar a day.

Despite the fact that 80 percent of the vanilla, yes 80 percent(!), on the global market originates from Madagascar “… in most years, farmers are living near or below the poverty level,” says Severine Deboos-David from the UN’s International Labour Organization.

One farmer, Meny from the small village of Masovarika states: “It’s a tough job … you are eaten by mosquitoes; you have to work every day. Then you have to face thieves who are stealing your hard work”.

He and others describe how collectors – middlemen drive out to the remote villages buying vanilla and selling it to exporters – mix stolen and legitimate vanilla, making it impossible to differentiate between legitimate and stolen.

So when you buy your precious vanilla, the story behind how it came into your hands, has track record of farmers struggling to survive, getting robbed of their livelihood, no action from the Malagasy authorities, corrupt middlemen and general lack of transparency and traceability along the supply chain of vanilla.

 

References:

Original article – https://danwatch.dk/i-strid-med-fn-danske-vanilje-importoerer-skal-vide-hvordan-deres-vanilje-er-produceret/

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/01/bitter-taste-madagascar-vanilla-170131073036652.html

 

 

An X-ray and AI scanner finds holes and needles

The Australian strawberry industry has been hit by ‘sabotage’ this year: recent weeks consumers have over a 100 times found large needles stuck into the berries. To ensure the confidence in Australian berries, the producers have therefore begun to control strawberries for export with X-ray. X-ray inspection of food
is an old and well-established technology, but today you have to develop unique solutions for each product to be able to test for different errors. For example, one solution is used to find out if a potato is hollow, while an other solution is used to find out if cold cuts are contaminated with metal shavings. Therefore, X-ray inspection today is preferably used on expensive products with known types of errors – or to sabotaged strawberries.

But people behind a new Danish project, are working on a solution, where food will be able to be scanned with cheaper all-round inspection machines in the future. The Danish project will develop a new dynamic X-ray technology that can continuously vary the X-ray energy of the device and choose the right camera technology. By adding artificial intelligence, the goal is to eliminate the need to develop unique software solutions for each product, and instead enable the system to automatically distinguish good products from contaminated.

The system chooses by itself!

“We develop artificial intelligence algorithms that can choose the optimum x-ray power and right camera with the right resolution. This means that we can control many different types of food without changing the inspection system”, says Brian Vinter, professor at Niels Bohr Institutet. Aarhus-based Magnatek is responsible for the development of a new type X-ray source, while QTechnology from Copenhagen is developing cameras for the project. Newtec Engineering in Odense is responsible for system integration, and Niels Bohr Institute is heading the software development.
The Danish Technological Institute will  validate the final solution, and the project has a total budget of 17 million DKK. “One of the big challenges is to get X-ray sources and cameras to communicate with our algorithm at very high speeds. For example, we work on detecting hollow potatoes, which needs to inspect 22 tonnes per hour. Our plan is to try to make a hardware solution, so image recognition takes place directly in FPGA chips, so we do not have to have a large server standing between production lines, “says Brian Vinter. When an X-ray inspection system can handle many types of food, the price will also be lower. Therefore, Brian Winter hopes that on the long-term, inspection systems like this also can find their way to supermarkets, to make extra quality checks before the goods arrive on the shelves.

If you want to read about a company that are applying AI on food production lines, then read this interview with Rufus from Sensomind

Original article from https://ing.dk/ 

Photo by Johnny Martínez on Unsplash

Could Blockchain help to Build a More Ethical Food System?

Article by Ryan Whibbs PhD, George Brown College

In recent months, discussion about potential applications for blockchain technology has exploded. Nearly every major sector of the economy has at least some parties examining how blockchain might be applied in finance, supply chain management, manufacturing, education, government, security, and even in food systems. Key to many of these discussions are questions about data: what information is significant? To whom? How can it be used? Who can access it? When it comes to the role of food in highly dynamic, information-driven societies, the answers to these questions can be complex.

In a recent article posted on LinkedIn, Offering Manager for IBM Blockchain, John Widdifield, outlined the problem insofar as coffee is concerned: “we typically delegate the responsibility of knowing a product’s origin to the organization from which it was purchased. However, the organization itself is often unaware of the product’s origin and unable to verify any existing knowledge. Consequently, there are significant challenges in trust and transparency across the complete supply chain for coffee and other products.” Indeed, although proponents of sustainable food systems have made strides in increasing awareness of the interconnectedness of macro-level food systems, consumers are often still in the dark when it comes to product origin, production locale, labour conditions, and transit itineraries and timelines.

For many chefs and consumers, supporting an ethical food system is an ideal that they strive toward. Very often, discourses among chefs stress the need for local and sustainable ingredients, waste reduction, and resource conservation in order to lessen the foodservice industry’s environmental impact. The ideal exists; the degree to which these discourses result in tangible effects is something that requires more nuanced research.

In fact, any movement toward a more carbon-neutral, sustainable ingredient selection requires a good deal of constant research. In the restaurant industry, chefs and purchasers do much of the connecting with suppliers, while in the grocery sector consumers usually leave this research to brands themselves. Still, suppliers change and unless chefs, purchasers, and consumers are prepared to do constant research for the same ingredient every time they purchase it, they may or may not be achieving sustainable ideals that they set out for themselves. Especially when one considers colder northern climates where imported perishables are necessary, separation between consumer and producer is accepted and rarely recognized.

The major problem here is transparency. How do I know that the lettuce I bought is actually local? Is it produced on an industrial farm, or is it from a family farm? If these are important factors to me –and they are to many– I may decide to go to retailers who offer access to product information that helps to verify product source and production conditions. Sustainable eating could, with much effort, become sustainable shopping.

With much effort? Yes. Chefs and buyers seeking specific ingredients from specific sources invest hundreds of hours each year into research about product origin, supply chain, producer, and production capacity. Still, product substitutions and changes happen continually, so even they find it difficult to keep on top of current market conditions. Domestic consumers at the grocery store have even fewer options given that they must select from what is available at the time. No one has time to trace every product they eat.

This is one of the most exciting potentials that a food blockchain holds. In much the same way as it does with cryptocurrency, a food blockchain would capture and hold data associated with a food item, and allow consumers access to this data when seeking to trace or verify information about safety, product origin, product quality, or even to geolocate and map the journey an item took to your table. At the beginning of 2017, almost no one was mentioning the connection between blockchain and food. By the end of 2018, investment in food blockchain technology will easily have eclipsed investment in developing any other food data technologies. It seems that, shortly, the food blockchain will be at our doorsteps.

Still, whereas questions about environmental sustainability are often front-of-mind, questions about social sustainability can lag behind. Who produced this? How much were they paid? Is it a living wage in their region? Many consumers are asking these questions, in addition to questions about environmental impacts. Along this vein, a passage in Widdifield’s article caught my attention: “One of the biggest problems facing coffee plantations are lack of worker documentation, non-existent labor contracts and forced labor or low pay. When plantations utilize forced labor, one of the first things they seek to do is erase documentation associated with the workers; as such, the first step in addressing this problem is to document the workers. Once each worker has trusted identification [TI] represented on the blockchain, plantation owners can then create and record a labor contract that specifies information such as payment terms, expected work hours or output, contract length and labor conditions. Workers can then receive payment digitally, of which the receipt is automatically recorded to the blockchain and payment confirmation is shared with organizations downstream.” Therefore, the technology will exist for consumers -even those who live in cold climates that depend on long-distance imports- to learn more about the people who produced their food. Whether governments force compliance or not will likely impact greatly on the strength of TI. Sustainably-minded consumers, however, will likely demand this information in the future, and retailers and restaurants seeking to attract eco-consumers will undoubtably find ways to leverage this data.

One wonders, though, how restaurant consumers will access this information, and through what filters? Suppose a restaurant customer wants to order a low-carbon, socially and environmentally sustainable meal. How will they be able to verify this information? Will it be possible? Will that be up to the restaurant, or will there be a credible third party who can somehow assist customers in accessing this data? Are there innovations being planned to help foodservice customers acquire more transparency about the food on their plate, independent or at least arms-length from the restaurant operator? As well, will TI extend to restaurant workers closer to home? Can restaurants who wish to add this level of traceability and transparency to their operating ethos be able to do so? It seems that this would be key to the system maintaining credibility in the public eye.

Certainly blockchain has potential to fill one of the major gaps that currently exists in sustainable food system movements. Access to impartial information is exactly what so many consumers invest time and money into achieving. With blockchain, much of the important data -even living conditions of workers- could be demanded by consumers. Without such demands, retailers and operators will likely control information flow. However, if the system is to maintain widespread credibility for both consumers and producers, it will be important for developers to establish ways for consumers to access product information independent of vendors.

Bio of Ryan Whibbs PhD

Experienced Professor with a demonstrated record of interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship in the fields of Food Studies, Cultural History, and Culinary Arts. Skilled in Research Design, Lecturing, Curriculum Development, Academic Writing, and Copy Editing, Dr. Whibbs co-developed and coordinates Canada’s only Culinary Arts undergraduate degree program: the B.Comm. (Culinary Management) program at George Brown College. A Subject Matter Expert advising on the newly revised Provincial Cook Apprenticeship Curriculum of the Ontario College of Trades, Dr. Whibbs also possesses extensive project management and foodservice management experience.

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Unsplash

Tiger shrimps produced under outrageous conditions in Vietnam

Tiger shrimps in Danish supermarkets is produced under outrageous conditions in Vietnam. 17 hour shifts at the assembly line and chlorine gas leaves workers with chronic, physical disorders. Supermarkets claim they did not know about the conditions.

37-year-old Ngoc Anh is working 83 hours a week on average, pealing shrimp at a Vietnamese shrimp factory. She has chronic sinusitis due to vapors from the chlorine at the factory and her body aches from dragging heavy boxes of shrimps that are sold to Danish consumers in supermarkets such as Rema 1000, Føtex and Netto.

Shrimp workers suffer from chronic sinusitis due to the hard assembly line work, they are sent home for days of fatigue and dehydration, and every month employees faint at the factories. These are the workers who help to secure Vietnam’s booming industry of tiger shrimps.

Overuse of antibiotics on shrimp farms

Over the past twenty years, global demand for tiger shrimps has led to an intensified shrimp production in Vietnam and this has led to diseases in the dams. This is why antibiotics have been mass-fed to healthy as well as shrimp with diseases.

Therefore Danwatch asked The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration to test 13 different packs of frozen shrimps in their laboratory. All were shrimps bought in Danish supermarkets and produced in Vietnam.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration found antibiotic residues in 3 out of 13 packs – more specifically in Coop’s Kæmperejer, Planets Pride Vannamei Shrimp (sold in Meny) and Crown Seafood’s Ocean Delight (sold in Nemlig.com).
All samples were below The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration’s limit values, and the governing body therefore sees no need to follow up.

Antibiotic residues constitutes a problem

Still, every finding of antibiotic residues in food is problematic, says Hans Jørn Kolmos, professor, MD in Clinical Microbiology at The University of Southern Denmark.

“This could lead to increasing treatment difficulties. The more resistance, the more difficult the infections are to treat, the more people die from it. That’s the very elementary calculation”, he says.

Niels Frimodt-Møller, professor, MD in Clinical Microbiology at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, also estimates that overuse of antibiotics can have global consequences:

“Resistance is spreading in southern Europe, Africa and Asia and it is happening with a greater speed than new antibiotics is being produced. Especially in India, China and Africa there has been bad examples. This all boils down to not controlling the use of antibiotics, “says Niels Frimodt-Møller.

Supermarkets will scrutinize the problems

2.500 tonnes of shrimps was last year imported to Denmark. Of this, about 50 tonnes of prawns ended in Coops stores and 70 tonnes of prawns in Rema 1000 stores.

Danwatch has presented the findings of poor working conditions and overuse of antibiotics to supermarkets and importers. They all say they did not know about the problems before Danwatch contacted them. This even though they all have control mechanisms in place to prevent it from taking place.

Kasper Reggelsen, Media Relations Manager, Salling Group, writes in an email:

“What is being presented here does not match our Code of Conduct, and we have already started a dialogue with our supplier to ask for an explanation.”

Similarly, Kristian Lauge Jørgensen, Director of the shrimp importer Company Lauge Seafood Selection writes in a reply to Danwatch:

“In collaboration with the producer, we will follow up on the conditions you refer to, regarding the social conditions of the companies you have visited. It is important to ensure that employees have organized working conditions that complies with applicable rules in the area”.

 

Original article here:

https://danwatch.dk/en/undersoegelse/vietnamese-workers-get-chronical-diseases-from-pealing-shrimp-for-danish-supermarkets/ 

 

Photo by Kaitlin Dowis on Unsplash

#YouAreWhatYouEat

In many countries, especially here in Denmark and EU, we don´t have to worry about when we get the next meal. Many of us have the possibility to pick and chose what we want to eat, and when. So in the age of self-realization, we can now use tech to make sure that we eat healthy, or least try to.

“One quarter of what you eat keeps you alive. The other three-quarters keeps your doctor alive” – Source unkown

Eating healthy starts with understanding what you’re eating on a frequent basis, but we all know that tracking what you eat, and trying to determine the nutritional information of certain meals requires a significant amount of effort. And a lot of data handling. So companies are developing apps and new tech, to let you monitor our own health. Many of these products are still in their infancy, so the data collected have to be taken with a grain of salt, but they offer an important glimpse into the future of self-regulation and personal health management.

Why is this important in the light of transparency?

If we can monitor what our body, with precision, consumes of sugar, pesticides, non-organic etc, it will have a reverse effect. When Millennials adopt health apps, that will make them much more interested in knowing the source of their food. With a never growing population of consumers with food allergies, they are demanding a clear information about reliable information. And with the growing interest in sustainable, organic, and local food, there is a pressure from consumers that value eating organic and/or sustainable, on the industry, to ensure that it really is organic, or sustainable.

“If everything is known, if it is known what is inside a product and its health effect on the body, that will really be a big change in the industry as we know it” – Nard Clabbers, Senior Business Developer at TNO

One of the companies trying to deliver precise transparent meal nutritional content is AVA. AVA uses artificial intelligence to allow users to take a photo, with their smartphone, of their meal to get instant information about the meal´s nutritional content. This is just one example, with other tech companies and startups applying blockchain, machine learning (ML), big data, argumented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Next week, you can read more about AVA and the tech companies and startups that are paving the way for more transparency of the food we eat. It might not be the companies business models, but it will be great side-effect with the focus on personal nutrition.

Sources:

https://medium.com/@sirianbrady/introducing-ava-and-intelligent-eating-224b0f9be826

Book: Our Food Our Future – Eat better, waste less, share more; (2017) Alan Watkins & Matt Simister.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Top 3 foods with hightest environmental footprint

Climate change is getting real, and agriculture is one of the largest sources of heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide.

But when it comes to their “carbon footprint,” not all foods are created equal. So here is a Top 3 with the highest carbon footprint, and a visual overview of all foods with the highest carbon footprint. This is so you are aware, and have this in mind, when you put your food in the basket. An easy way to bypass this, is to buy as local as possible.

Top 3

  1.  39.2 kg of CO2.                                                                                                       You thought is was beef, but sorry lamb lovers. Eating a kilo of lamb is equivalent to driving about 90 miles or 145 km! In the US a massive 50% of lamb is imported, so a lot of the carbon footprint comes from shipping. But the main contribution is the animals’ digestion, their feed, manure management and other farm operations.
  2. 27 kg of CO2
    The sinner we all know (or should know) is beef. Cows produce a lot of methane (a potent greenhouse gas), and also require a lot of water and land. Especially in South America, a lot of rainforest have been eliminated, to make way for huge farms for the never ending urge for for beef.
  3. 13.5 kg of CO2
    And maybe the joker here, is cheese. Cheese is also a major CO2 contributor. Only a small fraction of cheese is imported to the US, but that accounts for half of all the carbon emissions from cheese.

 

Source: https://bit.ly/2Ek9hPL

 

Sources:

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-top-10-foods-with-the-biggest-environmental-footprint-2015-9?r=UK&IR=T&IR=T

https://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/a-meat-eaters-guide-to-climate-change-health-what-you-eat-matters/climate-and-environmental-impacts/

Book: Our Food Our Future – Eat better, waste less, share more; (2017) Alan Watkins & Matt Simister.

Photo by Leon Ephraïm on Unsplash

Bologna – A 360 degree focus on food at FICO World

Me (Kristoffer) and my girlfriend, Nina, had planned our easter vacation destination. Italy! Visiting a few places in Tuscany, and Bologna a bit more north-east. We wanted to visit Bologna, due to being the “food capital” of Italy. And we were not disappointed.

We ate at many different restaurants during our short stay, and tried to eat out, as much as possible. One restaurant we highly can recommend is Ristorante Pizzeria La Brace, where I had their delicious swordfish and Nina had fresh pasta with a variety of seafood. Fantastic meal!

Besides all the restaurants, we also visited the local food markets on Via Pescherie Vecchie and Mercato delle Erbe. I also wanted to visit the newly built FICO Eataly World, a agri-food park few kilometers outside of central Bologna. We had no idea what to expect, since I stumbled upon it when googling “what to do in Bologna”.

It was a massive place, with a combination of food stalls, playground, learning areas, food courses, animals and supermarket. You can easily get lost in all the lovely smells and colors of the rainbow, when walking through the wine area, or the olive oil area.

I can go on and on, but what I like about this place is the 360 degree focus on food. It started with plants, bees and animals outside the building. Here you can, e.g. read about the animals, learn where you food comes from, what it eats and so on (mostly for kids, I guess 😃). Then you walk inside and see the produce in action. Most of the food shops have mini-production sites at FICO, where you can, just like in a zoo, watch workers make the products, which you can taste and buy a few feet away. I applaud this form of transparency!

This was also the same for the restaurants, where you look directly into the kitchen and watch the chefs do their magic. Many of the restaurants also had a “how it’s made”, either on the menu or as big illustrations on the wall. Again, to inform the visitors of what they are putting in their mouths.

Part of the experience was also interactive installations about food, courses on food, and as the picture below shows, talks about different aspects of food production.

So their tagline of “You have seen them being made, you have tasted them in our restaurants… why don’t you take them home with you?”, holds true, at least the first and second part, as we didn’t buy anything, since we had to drive to Piombino in the afternoon. All in all a very interesting place to visit, so if you are interested in food do spend some hours at FICO World.

Ciao!

Interview – Founder of SensoMind, Rufus Blas

We love the new technologies here at MyFoodTrust, of course in relation to improving the current lack of transparency. Last week we talked to Daniel from Bext360, and their use of blockchain and AI. Today we focus on AI again, which we find super interesting as a tool for food transparency, so it was a no brainer to do a interview with Rufus from SensoMind.

Read here, how SensoMind have applied AI to create a system to detect anomalies in food products and what role AI will play in creating transparency in food supply chains in the future.

Can you start with telling us a little about yourself and SensoMind?Hi, my name is Rufus. I’ve been involved in AI ever since I studied at MIT in 2004 at their Artificial Intelligence Lab. I hold both a PhD and an MBA and have a passion for innovation management and entrepreneurship. Previously I worked a lot with perception for self-driving vehicles in agriculture. I founded Sensomind with my partner in 2016 in order to democratize AI and get it out to the masses.  We’ve built our own set of tools around top AI products such as Googles Tensorflow which we thought at the time were too much targetting data scientists and not enough the engineers that are out in the field today. Our core competencies lie in analysis of complex sensor data. This is available in abundance in manufacturing so is one reason why we have gotten into this industry.

Rufus Blas
Sounds interesting, but can Sensomind’s AI technology be applied on food?
We’ve been working extensively with food manufacturing customers where our technology can be used for quality monitoring and sorting of food products. Most of our solutions are based on optical sensors (Such as cameras and multi-spectral imaging). Vision technology has been around in the food industry for 10-20 years but it’s been very difficult to apply it to food products with organic shapes and high variety. Examples include monitoring breads, meat, and fruits & vegetables. With AI you can teach the system just be showing it examples which opens up for completely new applications. An example can be automating the cutting of meat.  The price of a final product has a large influence on the cutting being done correctly and it can be very difficult using traditional computer vision to recognize exactly where to cut.
And in relation to that, can Sensomind’s technology help tackle the problem of, e.g. food contamination or unapproved enhancements/additives in food?
So we have a system to detect anomalies which can for example detect contaminants. In the food industry we have used this to detect contaminants such as bone fragments, metal, plastic, and other objects which shouldn’t be there. Unlike a human operator, our system never tires. Unapproved additives is difficult to detect using traditional color cameras so here we work with spectrometers or multi-spectral cameras. Using traditional computer vision an engineer would normally sit and try to make a model for different additives based on a pre-conceived notion of what to look for. AI allows a more statistic and data-driven approach which reduces the chance of unapproved additives making it through the production undetected.
In your opinion, what role does new technologies, e.g. AI, play in creating transparency in food supply chains?
Supply chains are notoriously difficult to model because of large amounts of often poor quality or missing data. AI is really good at crunching numbers and extracting meaningful informations from poor quality and multi-source data (including images, text, numbers, etc). AI can help piece together the information about specific products which would be impossible to model by hand.
If someone was interested in learning more about the work you do, where can the find more? 
The obvious thing would be to contact me. Check out our website (sensomind.com). We have a number of international projects going so location is often not a big issue.
A big thank you to Rufus, and great to hear of the use of AI in the food supply chain. Here at MyFoodTrust, we are always looking for how new technologies can enhance transparency and traceability.
So if you know of any startups, please let me know!
Have a great day.
© MyFoodTrust 2018

Farm animal welfare & transparency. So call me blockchain? Maybe

This article is written by Dan McGlynn:

Sustainability & animal welfare – the power of transparency, technology & collaboration – so call me blockchain, maybe?

Farm Animal Welfare – it’s now seen as a strategic opportunity by many global companies.

The benchmark…

I was fortunate enough to attend the launch of the 6th BBFAW report evaluating the performance of 110 large food institutions. The headline was ‘good progress but still a long way to go’.

Thank you to Nicky Amos for inviting me, one of the best events I have ever attended.

The venue was the London Stock Exchange – strange setting you may possibly think? Not so, it became very evident when David Harris, Head of sustainable investment at FTSE Russell opened the event by talking about how investors are closely linking sustainability and animal welfare metrics with share performance and valuation.

All business should take note – as the consumer becomes more aware and demands greater transparency on the goods that they are buying, companies that are transparent with their performance in dealing with ethical, sustainability and animal welfare issues will outperform those that are not.

Steve McIvor – chief executive of World Animal Protection made some great comments : ‘Consumers are showing that they increasingly care about the welfare of animals when they are deciding where to eat’.

The Foodservice industry still has ‘a lot more work to do’ providing transparency of animal welfare in their supply chains according to the new report. Despite making some progress (JD Wetherspoons rose 3 places) in the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, pub & restaurant chains lag behind retailers and manufacturers and still need to make improvements.

No hospitality company achieved the ‘tier one’ status in the ranking but McDonald’s & our very own Greggs placed towards the top of tier two after making farm animal welfare a part of their business strategies.

The likes of KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks managed tier five, defined as showing limited evidence of implementation, while Subway and Burger King both ranked in tier four, and were defined as making progress. Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and The Co-operative Group all achieved tier one ranking.

The stats are staggering. Globally, 50 billion chickens are slaughtered every year (that’s 7500 every 10 seconds) – a large proportion of those live in unacceptable conditions. A lot of work is being done with the emerging markets of countries such as China, Brazil and Thailand.

 

Did you know that the largest dairy industry in the world is in India? China produces 700 million pigs per year – the UK produces 10 million. Big numbers, lots of animals.

The report scores companies on 4 areas:

·      Management policy & commitment

·      Governance & management

·      Leadership & innovation

·      Performance reporting & impact – increasingly becoming more important

Similar to the Modern Slavery act 2015, it’s not good enough just to have a policy in place. The company needs to have the commitments as part of their culture and strategy and more importantly, measure and report on their performance.

Only 11% of companies report on animal welfare outcomes – that’s 12 out of 110 global businesses. The answer is data and technology.

Can blockchain fill this void? Possibly. There are more and more commentators on this subject, very few are experts and it’s unproven in food. Watch this space and I aim to provide more insight on this subject soon.

There is existing technology that maps supply chains and is able to harvest sustainability & animal welfare KPIs from any part of that chain – look at my linked in profile and you will find out who they are!

Transparency will be king – do not underestimate the power of transparency. Technology will be the vehicle for this much need transparency.

If any of the above has resonated and you would like to discuss this subject further, lets connect and get in touch. I am heading up a project to drive collaboration in the foodservice industry focusing on compliance, ethical and animal welfare performance. All fingers point towards integrity.

Don’t get me started on integrity (doing the right thing even when nobody is looking). That subject is for another day.

I also love feedback – good, bad and ugly, it’s how we all grow so please let me know your thoughts.

Have a great day

Dan McGlynn

Authenticate IS

Original posted here:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/farm-animal-welfare-transparency-so-call-me-maybe-dan-mcglynn/