Tracking and Tracing Our Food Supply: The Way Forward

Friday, February 19, 2010: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Room 6E (San Diego Convention Center)
Today’s food supply is complex with multiple companies involved in providing grocery products. Efficient tracking products from farm to fork is essential for good business practices, establishing trust between partners, and rapidly removing recalled products from the market. Recalls because of risk to health undermine the public’s confidence in the food supply whether it is salmonella in peanuts or an allergen in infant food. This symposium will explore new technologies being developed to improve tracing and tracking of our food supply. A combination of mobile phones, barcodes, and DNA tests allow ranchers to input data on their animals to inform meat purchasers about the detailed history of the animals. The next step is to develop a system for tracking produce. Global positioning technology is now being integrated into the epidemiological arsenal of identification tools, such as spotting wild animals in spinach fields. The public is unclear what action to take when a recall announcement is made over the media. So, retailers are now exploring more direct approaches to purchasers such as telephone and e-mail contacts, warning messages on receipts, and even radio-frequency identification (RFID) tracking. However, there are potential privacy issues if credit cards and loyalty cards are used. Research is exploring acceptance by producers, retailers, and consumers. In the future, however, new advances in communication technology will reduce the risk of illness and improve consumer confidence in the food supply.
Ewen C. Todd, Michigan State University
Abraham Gademu, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
How We Use Geospatial Technology To Improve Outbreak Investigations
Ewen C. Todd, Michigan State University
Rapid Recall: Collaboration Between Retailers and Consumers
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