All posts by admin

Interview with Frederik Lean – Building a food tech community and vertical farming

This is a an interview I have looked forward to for a long time. Both due to Frederik being a friend of mine, but also because he is really driven towards making change happen, not just talk about, but building stuff, as he would put it. In this interview we are focusing on Vertical Farming, and how that will lead us to create a more sustainable agricultural system. But lets hear from the man himself.

Can you start with telling us a little about yourself?

Sure. I’m basically an altruistic hippie caught inside a the body of a super capitalist startup dude out for vengeance on the food system while wearing round design-thinking glasses. Also, I grow plants indoor using all sorts of fancy equipment and try to build a productive community around food technology in Copenhagen. Background within economics, technology and open-source projects.

What are your current work in relation to foodtech?

1 year ago, I co-initiated CPH Foodtech Community (connecting food & technology people on hands-on development projects), Growstack Cooperative (enabling and kickstarting vertical farming) & Reffen Greens (growing microgreens and herbs in a 20’ shipping container), and have all sorts of ambitious projects associated with these initiatives. CPH Foodtech Community is essentially the platform that spun-out the Growstack project (which is now becoming a cooperative), which again is the reason why the opportunity to establish Reffen Greens as a local micro-scale vertical farm came about.

What is vertical farming? And why is it important?

Vertical farming is basically the use of technology like LED lights, automated irrigation, sensors, dispensers and data science to grow plants in multiple levels on top of each other in highly controlled environments and usually without soil. And why is it an important thing? First of all, it’s no secret that our current agricultural system has a few very serious issues in terms of things like pollution, deforestation, lack of arable land and limited biodiversity, meaning that scaling up our current way of producing plants simply just isn’t a viable option in the future. Secondly, the biggest risk factor within agriculture is really the weather. And since we have very little certainty about the state of our climate even in the coming 10-15 years, removing that risk seems like a pretty good idea. At the same time, people’s food habits are actually getting worse in terms of climate impact. And if we want people to eat less meat and other environmentally unfriendly foods, we better start making plants the far superior alternative. With vertical farming we can actually attain higher quality, pesticide free and non-pollutant plant production year round and grow all kinds of varieties that would otherwise be difficult, because we have full climate control and can use enriched sensor-data to find out exactly how to optimise for not only yield and size, but also taste and nutritional value at the same time. Apart from this, vertical farming has the potential to really decentralise part of food production as we know it, which has some pretty valuable socioeconomic benefits and other cool stuff within achievable range.

Small scale vertical farm
Frederik at TechBQQ spreading the word about vertical faming and food tech.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building on that, from your knowledge, how can Vertical Farming help create greater traceability and transparency of food products?

Well, given how digital the production is, it’s a lot easier to know exactly what inputs the plants have received and track the journey all the way from seed production to your plate. Kristoffer, you are probably fishing for a recommendation to develop some kind of fancy blockchain application here – but I’m Just (pun intended) not gonna give it to you.
Kristoffer: I honestly wasn’t, but I think that Vertical Farming in itself is going to create transparency. By looking at farms which is based in the same buildings as supermarkets, people could go by where their lettuce, basil is grown, thereby minimising both the physical and psychological distance between us, and the food we eat. And hopefully inspiring people to ask questions about the foods origin and cultivation.
If someone was interested to learn more, where could they read more on this topic? 
There’s always www.growstack.org – but honestly simple Google and youtube searches will bring you an abundance of good introductions to the topic. Then there are different kinds of scientific articles, documentaries and books written on the topic as well – again google is your friend. Another quick reference could be www.agritecture.com which usually features a few interesting developments from the global scene. And no – if you google Growstack Marketplace and find links to anabolic steroid products available for purchase, it is not us. I promise.

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

Interview with Nuno Soares – Food Safety Expert

Here at My Food Trust, we are always excited to talk to great people, especially when it comes to food safety systems (ISO 22000:2018). So if you also are interested or just want to know more, Nuno Soares is your go-to guy, as he has just published an e-book about ISO 22000:2018. Lets get started!

Can you start with telling us a little about yourself?

I am Nuno Soares, I am a food product engineer. I graduated back in 1999, so I have many years of experience in the food industry, every since my first day back in 1999, developing frozen croissants. In the beginning of my career, I came across HACCP in my first job at a factory, and also implementing that system and ISO, so i have been a part of food safety systems since the start of my career. And I have worked with food safety systems ever since. 

Along working in the industry, I did a Master in Business Administration, because it is important to understand the business side, and that goes for every food safety professional. You must not be closed minded in your thinking, but know how food safety impacts the business side. Soon after this, I started on my PhD, because I knew the importance of research and also to have a different impact in the food industry. During my PhD, I worked on a solution to substitute a glace, that is used in frozen fish to protect it during frozen storage, to increase shelf life and food safety. So since the beginning of my career I have worked with HACCP and ISO 22000, done audits and inspections, so food safety has been a huge part of my professional and personal interest. 

What are your current work in relation to food safety systems?

I am at the moment, a food safety professional, working in the frozen fish industry. On a daily basis, I guarantee food safety of the products. But since I started on my PhD, It has really started my passion to share my knowledge, both my professional work and what I study.

I came to realise my main purpose is to share knowledge broadly, and to help fellow food safety professionals, and that is what I want to do the next coming years. I learned from other great professionals the last 20 years, to develop my skills. Now I want to learn from all the young people that are out there, that are in their beginning or starting their studies.  

Everything I do, should revolve around sharing knowledge, so that is what I do, when I go to work, and when I publish my studies.

What is “ISO 22000:2018”, and why is it important?

ISO 22000:2018 is a food safety management system, first published in 2005. Why it is important, firstly, is not owned and backed by retailers and since the beginning was designed to be applied in any step of the food chain.Which is both a strength and a weakness, by not being associated with any retailers, for instance, ISO is a system that can be perceived are less conditioned by the market. To be applied anywhere in the food chain makes it less specific (e.g. prerequisites) and therefore more challenging during audits.   

But, due to the other food safety systems (e.g. BRC) being associated with retailers, the goal is to make sure that companies live up to a global recognised food safety standard.

Building on that, from your knowledge, how can ISO 22000:2018 and food safety systems help create greater traceability and transparency of food products?

ISO is doing, and will create improved traceability and transparency of food products. Not only ISO, but also the other food safety systems because these systems demand organisations to have implemented traceability procedures and test of products.. ISO is becoming more and more strict on the traceability aspect, knowing the traceability but also in a “timely manner”. This question of timely manner, we can not avoid talking about the possibility of blockchain, because it is a hot topic. Many foresee blockchain to have a big impact on food safety traceability, I also agree, but let’s test and try to use it, to see if we can get to the root cause or the origin of the problem in a timely manner.

The new update also helps on the aspect of transparency, because companies need to look into their context, risks that are associated with their business, so not only food safety. E.g. food fraud, companies should look into the possibility of food fraud, to know what kind of food fraud is common in their industry, and how they can mitigate and control those risks. This is new in ISO 22000:2018 and was not addressed in the older version.   

Also Food Defense may be addressed now inside the organization context, since companies must be aware of potential malicious ways to tamper with their products, that might introduce a foodborne illness to the consumers. So now companies can look to ISO, to introduce more focus on food fraud and food defense

If someone was interested to learn more, where could they read more on this topic?

They are more than welcome to read my ebook, of course. You can find a lot of information on social media, but first go to the source. Of course you can read blogs, and people that are talking about food safety, but the best way to know how you can implement it in your business, is first of all going to the food safety systems official pages and resources.

So, if ISO is your fancy, then download the e-book about ISO 22000:2018 here!

 

Blockchain, Provenance, Traceability & Chain of Custody

This is an article written by John G. Keogh.

Here are my answers to questions posed over the past few months online and in industry and regulator dialogue. As some of my points can be successfully argued from different angles, this is intended to create the dialogue and not limit it. Your comments and perspectives are valuable and I look forward to this discussion.

Question 1 : Do I need a Blockchain for effective Food Recall? 

No. In a closed supply chain with limited exchange partners you don’t need a blockchain to execute a rapid recall of an unsafe product. Any GS1-standards based technology platform can be used to rapidly trace (backward) and track (forward) a consumer packaged product if the product has a data carrier (barcode) and/or batch/lot # attached. Check out the GS1 global office website or your country GS1 organization as they have a traceability and product recall standard and guidelines on how to execute recall effectively.

In the USA, industry standards body GS1 has partnered with GMA and FMI and has a nationwide, cloud-based Rapid Recall Express platform in operation for almost 10 years. There are similar industry-driven, national recall platforms in place in CanadaAustralia and New Zealand which align to regulations and helps protect consumers and reduces industry risks. GS1 South Korea has a ‘stop-sale’ process in place with multiple government regulators for about 10 years. If any of the regulators determine a product is unsafe, the regulator sends a GS1-centric message to the retailers HQ. Within 30 minutes of receiving the regulators alert, all points of sale (cash registers) in the country are blocked and the ‘stop-sale’ process is enacted. I have seen this in action and it’s amazing. The stop-sale process is quickly followed by the formal recall process. This globally unique process reduces the risk of consumer harm and helps to protect the brand at the same time.

Blockchain is helpful for a recall use case when you have multiple exchange partners across multiple countries and using disparate technologies (see Q2). The opensource and purpose-built blockchain data protocol from OriginTrail is very useful in this scenario because it enables GS1-standards based interoperability between multiple blockchains and legacy. As the below slide from OriginTrail indicates, today we have many data silos and interoperability is crucial to address both traceability, transparency and to execute a rapid recall. Origin Trail will be the first to advise that without first addressing data governance (accurate and standardized data) blockchain will not work as intended.

Disclaimer: I advise the Origin Trail board on industry standards, transparency and trust

Question 2: Are current food regulations driving the need for Blockchains?

Yes. Regulations are generally non-prescriptive and in the food chain they call for a “1-up/1-down” traceability. In complex, multi-party supply chains this is costly, time-consuming and can lead to (preventable) illness and death. In the Walmart Mango use case, it took almost 7 days to execute a mock recall based on 1-up/1-down approach and 2.2 seconds using their specific Blockchain configuration. Blockchain technology is helpful in complex, multi-country, multi-exchange party supply chains that already have good data governance and industry data standards (GS1) in place. A standards-based blockchain enables linkages to be made between the exchange parties and permits sharing of product master data, transactional data and event data – the unhindered flow and visibility of this data is what we call transparency.

I have adapted and use the following diagram to explain the success of the Walmart model in context of theoretical and practical applications of transparency and trust using technology. In this model, the below-the-line RMT indicates regulation mediated transparency. You will note that this is based on mistrust – so are strong contracts that buyers put in place with suppliers. The alternative is what Walmart achieved with voluntary trust-building with strategic transparency and identification based trust enabled by technology – what I call TMT or Technology Mediated Transparency.

Question 3: Can Blockchain guarantee Food Safety and Food Authenticity?

No. Blockchain is oversold as a guarantee of food safety, food authenticity and anti-counterfeit in general. The only legitimate and legal way to guarantee food safety and authenticity is through analytical testing of the product itself – we cannot track the outer package or container and claim the food is safe and authentic. On-pack security features (forensic, covert or overt) help in fraud detection but forensic evidence is required for successful conviction in food fraud cases.

Example 1. WINE bottle recycling

There is a known underground industry that trades in used wine bottles. A hotel or restaurant worker may be incentivized to collect and sell empty vintage wine bottles for hundreds of dollars each. They are re-filled and re-sold for thousands of $, often with fake security features. According to a 2017 Forbes article, an estimated 30,000 bottles of fake imported wine are sold in China every hour. Solution providers are making technology advances and offering security features that create obstacles on the bottle itself including tamper-evident features and fraud alerts for multiple scans of the serialized identifier. Despite the technology improvements and their utility, the only way to legally guarantee the wine is genuine is through forensic testing of the wine bottle contents against the reference samples taken from the harvested crop, or the final blended mix. The storage of reference samples by harvested batch may be a regulatory requirement in some regions.

Example 2. Commingling of fresh fruit and vegetables

Colorful vegetables for sale at the Central Market of Hoi An, Vietnam

Fresh fruits and vegetables may be commingled with products from multiple, geographically dispersed suppliers which increases the risks related to quality, safety, authenticity and provenance. For example, a product may claim to be organic but might have 50% non-organic mixed in to complete the order. The role of blockchain and other technologies in this scenario is limited because human behaviour is the variable. Risk reduction strategies will vary and depend on the context and culture. They can draw on combinations of 1) incentivized behaviour to reduce cheating 2) training on a food safety culture 3) effective food safety practices 4) farm and supply chain auditing 5) industry supply chain standards 6) technology solutions and 7) analytical science. The latter, analytical science being the most critical for evidence.

Question 4: Can Blockchain deliver a guarantee of Food Provenance?

European flags on minced meat. International meat trade

No. This is confusing I know. Provenance refers to geographic source or origin and is determined by forensic science not software, GPS or hardware (see below traceability). Let me share a hypothetical example; lets say we have potatoes and carrots in Vietnam that go to market as ‘product of Vietnam’. In one possible scenario, bad actors could roll the veggies in dampened local dirt to enhance the illusion of being a local product. When the product is forensically tested, both the veggie species, and their carbon fingerprint proves they are indigenous to, and were grown in a particular region of China. This is food fraud and classified as an economically motivated adulteration where a cheaper product is sold as a more expensive premium local product. Blockchain, IoT, stickers/logos or barcodes on bundles of products will not solve this because human behaviour is the variable.

Analytical laboratories can address these issues as part of a regular audit of suppliers and supply chains. Similarly, forensic testing can determine if fish were wild caught or farmed. Companies doing exceptionally well at this today include Perth-based Source Certain and New Zealand-based Oritain, to name a few.

Question 5: What’s the difference between provenance, traceability and chain of custody?

Even the experts get these confused. Let me explain how I see it. Provenance is defined above as geographic source or origin and it is guaranteed only through the results of forensic testing of it’s carbon fingerprint. You will hear experts or software companies say they ‘track provenance’. In many cases what they really mean is classic supply chain traceability or in some cases, chain of custody. Classic traceability includes the source of the materials and is best interpreted as the ‘business or logistics source’. In my opinion, we should not call it tracking provenance as we are not necessarily tracking the true geographic source or origin per-se, we are tracking physical ‘movement’ from a business or logistics source through the supply chain. This draws an important distinction between classic product traceability and forensic product traceability of the geographic source or origin as defined by forensic testing of the products carbon fingerprint.

To help the discussion and align on terminology, see below definitions of food traceability extracted from Olsen and Borit (2013).

CODEX: Traceability is defined in the Codex Alimentarius Commission Procedural Manual (FAO/WHO, 1997) as “the ability to follow the movement of a food through specified stage(s) of production, processing and distribution ”.

ISO: Traceability defined in ISO 9000 and ISO 22005. ISO 9000 (ISO, 2000) as “The ability to trace the history, application or location of that which is under consideration”

The ISO 22005 (ISO, 2005 ) definition is word for word the same as the ISO 9000 definition, but ISO 9000 is a standard for quality management systems in general whereas ISO 22005 is a specific standard for traceability in the food and feed chain. ISO 22005 adds that “Terms such as document traceability, computer traceability, or commercial traceability should be avoided. ”

For all these ISO definitions (ISO 8402, ISO 9000, ISO 22005), there is an additional clause which states that when relating to products, traceability specifically entails “the origin of materials and parts, the processing history, and the distribution and location of the product after delivery”.

EU General Food Law (EU, 2002) defines traceability as “The ability to trace and follow a food, feed, food producing animal or substance intended to be, or expected to be incorporated into a food or feed, through all stages of production, processing and distribution ”.

 

The net-net, traceability includes the material origin. A brief note: within a supply chain, physical products are tracked-forward but traced-backwards and this bi-directional capability is generally referred to as traceability. The chart below is unpublished and from my academic research. It shows the nuances of information, product and assurance flows.

 

Chain of Custody (CoC)

CoC or cumulative tracking was an active discussion in pharmaceuticals in the early to mid 2000’s but seems to have lost some favour. CoC is critically and legally important in highly regulated sectors. For example in weapons, explosives, transport of bulk money, works of art etc. where exact time stamps of the product physical movement, locations and details of all transactions including the parties in physical custody must be tracked and registered. This is similar to a FedEx package delivery where very detailed information is available and signatures are required for acceptance from one party to another. This accumulation of data along the supply chain is sometimes referred to as similar to a ‘Russian doll’.

Example: Pharmaceuticals and Tobacco

Pharmaceuticals and tobacco are two sectors that are highly regulated to protect against many issues including illicit trade, counterfeit, human health and safety etc. What this means is that every dispensing unit of a drug and every pack of cigarettes must be globally and uniquely identified with a serial number and tracked at every stage in it’s supply chain (to the point of dispensing for drugs and to the last point before purchase for tobacco. Note, drugs are tracked to prescriptions and patients, tobacco is not tracked to smokers).

In the (old) chart below from GS1, CoC is represented by cumulative tracking in comparison to 1-up/1-downcentralized database control for closed networks and distributed databases; which we noted more than 15 years ago and is now similar to the current blockchain dialogue. The latest version of the various traceability models can be found in the GS1 Global Traceability Standard (2017).

Disclaimer: I was previously a senior vice president at GS1 Canada and Director of Product & Consumer Safety at GS1 Global office.

Food is regulated of course but not to the extent above that it requires serial number specificity (lot size 1). Generally, food is tracked by lot, batch or date code and a can of soda will have the same global trade item number (GTIN) as the same soda product next to it. The GTIN, while globally unique and aligned to the brand is not a serial number and is referred to as a product family or class code. With the increase in food fraud, there is now growing momentum to add a second data carrier to a food product with a serialized identifier and links to a product web page or product authentication tools. Note, date carrier is a ‘family name’ for all barcodes and RFID tags. Regulations may suggest the ‘data to be carried’ and the brand owner will then select the appropriate data carrier.

To visualize how a GTIN works in a food chain today, see the chart below from GS1 which can be found in the 2017 version of the Global Traceability Standard

BREAKING NEWS

On August 13th 2018, GS1 released a new standard called the GS1 Digital Linkstandard which will enable connections to all types of B2B and B2C information. This new standard is the foundational bridge between physical products and their digital twins.

That’s it for this post – your comments, feedback and opinions are highly valued and very important. Keep an eye out for upcoming posts on topics related to transparency, trust, credence, anti-counterfeit, traceability, product recall, blockchain, provenance and many more.

About the Author:

John G. Keogh is a sought-after speaker, advisor and researcher. Operating at the intersection of the Public + Private sectors globally, he provides confidential advisory, research & interventions across policy, operations, strategy and technology.

John holds a PG Dip. and an MBA in General Mgmt. He has an MSc (distinction) in Business and Management Research into Supply Chain Transparency and Consumer Trust. He is currently a part-time, associate researcher at Henley Business School, undertaking doctoral (DBA) research into food chain transparency and consumer trust. John plans to publish an ebook “Food Chain Transparency – what executives need to know” in 2018.

Photo by Martin Adams 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