Tag Archives: consumers

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.

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!

 

#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!

Consumers find transparency in food important

Transparency has been one of the biggest buzzwords in the food business. It has driven product reformulations, moved producers to utilize more sustainable practices. It is now no more an option, it’s a requirement. The survey by Response Media underscores its importance as producers, manufacturers and retailers move forward with greater transparency of their products. The survey was carried out Q1 this year with 500 US respondents and mixed gender demographics.

The findings

Consumers place a significant value of importance on the source of ingredients; the manufacturing, handling, and shipping of the product; and the sustainability, charitable, and labor policies of a brand.

Consumers primarily want it before and during purchase. So an easy-to-use QR code or NFC tag, combined with the consumers smartphone could do the trick.

So their recommendation is that companies that can deliver content during all stages will secure a stronger level of trust and differentiate themselves from competition.

So, brands must consciously develop and communicate meaningful transparency content to consumers when and where they want it. This transparency have to be founded on a trusted process, or else it is just airy-fairy. This could be a supply chain blockchain tech and RFID process, to ensure the greater transparency and traceability. So there is no need to wait, the first that brings transparency to the food we eat, is going to have a great advantage when people have to chose between products in the supermarket.

© 2018 Kristoffer Just Petersen

References

http://www.fooddive.com/news/grocery–study-nearly-all-consumers-find-transparency-in-food-and-beverage-important/446999/?mc_cid=a1edfc77cc&mc_eid=35fb007d92

Response Media – 2017 Transparency Study