Thought for Food

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving here in the USA.  If you’re able to read this blog, chances are that, like me, you’re pretty blessed and have much to be thankful for.  And, if you’re like me, you’ll be able to enjoy a wonderful meal with friends and family that includes a nice entree (I didn’t use the “T-word”), some vegetables and a wealth of other fresh food items. (Note that everyone’s favorite the Brussels Sprout is experiencing a renaissance in time for Thanksgiving! Find more about that here.**)

Who Wants Brussels Sprouts for Thanksgiving???

What you’re probably not thinking about is food safety but every year newspapers publish articles about how to make sure your turkey is properly cleaned, vegetables washed, food cooked  adequately and leftovers stored properly.  If you haven’t seen one of those articles, well, here you go! Read the Sacramento Bee article.

At Intelleflex, we think about food safety every day as food safety and quality is a main focus of our business. We work with growers, grocers and distribution companies to help them make sure that the food you buy at the store is fresh and of high quality. In fact, after you’ve worked at Intelleflex for a while, you can never look at things like a clamshell of strawberries or a bag of spinach the same way!  As the Food Safety Modernization Act begins to be implemented, we’ll see even more news about food safety in the year to come.

So, from all of us here at Intelleflex, a safe and happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing

**I actually love Brussels Sprouts.  Just wash them thoroughly, peel the leaves off, saute with some bacon and toss in some chopped pecans and garlic.

Chinese Food and Free Traceability

I love Chinese food but this post isn’t about Cashew Chicken or Chow Mein.  An article in Western Farm Press (and reposted by Food Logistics Magazine) mentions that China is now the 4th largest importer of fresh vegetables into the USA.  Not surprising really. Half of the fresh fruit and one-fourth of the vegetables consumed in the U.S. are imported. It’s not just produce either as 86% of the many types of fish we eat comes from other countries. What does this mean for food safety?

The story in Western Farm Press references Dr. Juan Anciso, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist and food safety expert, who says “Assuring safe food supplies is increasingly important for fresh fruits and vegetables as state and federal governments eye legislation to regulate safety issues, both domestically and internationally, because of past outbreaks.”

Reduce Waste. Improve Quality. Get Traceability.

Dr. Luis Ribera, an agricultural economist at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, suggests that an inexpensive labor force and good growing conditions in China and other countries can lead to increased risk of contaminated food.  He was recently in China to discuss the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law last year by President Obama. “What this law basically says about imported fresh produce is that the importer/broker who imports fresh produce from overseas into the U.S. is now liable for that produce once it’s in the U.S.,” according to Ribera.

The new FSMA law sets food safety standards on production, harvesting, handling and packaging on all produce, including imports, Ribera said. Until now, such standards had just been guidelines. Ribera is working on a project that to measure the impact of FSMA on fruit and vegetable production in the USA, as well as any impact on produce imports.  He concludes that he suspects the new rules – many of which are still in development by the government –  will likely increase the cost of production for fruits and vegetables, both domestically and overseas.

He could be right, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  In fact, you can essentially get traceability solutions for free.  How?

A significant portion of produce goes to waste each year (Forbes says it is $35 billion.  A GS1 article says IBM estimates it closer to $458 billion.)  This waste is due to spoilage, as much of half of which can be attributed to improper temperature management across the supply chain – a challenge made worse by the longer trips associated with importing food from Asia or other parts of the world that can increase the risk of spoilage or food safety problems.  By implementing pallet-level temperature monitoring and management solutions you can significantly reduce the amount of food wasted in the supply chain and generate more revenue…more than enough to rapidly recover the investment in the solutions.  One case study we published showed that the customer was able to pay for the solution in a single growing season.  The beauty of it is that, along with reducing waste and shrink, the solution also automatically provides you with  traceability data.  It doesn’t cost extra…it’s part of the solution’s benefits.

You can learn more about how this works by clicking here or you can email me.

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing



What is That You’re Eating?

I’ve written previously about how RFID can be used to improve track and trace capabilities for improving food safety and dealing with recalls.  However, here’s another angle associated with food that you may not have thought about: authenticity.

How can you be sure where this came from?

So, you’re paying for wild salmon at your favorite grocery store.  Are you sure?  How about those free range chicken breasts?

That exotic white tuna sushi you’re eating?  Maybe it’s Escolar, at least according to a story published last year in the Boston Globe.

For some, ensuring that the food you’re buying is what it claims to be is merely economic…why pay more for something special when it’s not special?  But, for others, this can have for more serious health or religious impacts.

Steven Kronenberg, an attorney with expertise in food safety, recently blogged about three companies facing litigation because they allegedly misrepresented that their foods were Kosher/Halal certified.  Kronenberg writes:

Food companies face huge risks from this litigation due to the enormous size of the potential plaintiffs’ classes.  In the U.S., Halal-certified foods are a $20 billion market.  Kosher consumers buy $12.5 billion in food annually, and the broader market for Kosher ingredients exceeds $300 billion.  (Many non-Kosher consumers choose to buy Kosher foods due to their perceived higher quality, and Kosher is the “hottest word on food labels.”)  To manage some of these risks in the CPG market, some researchers are exploring the use of RFID technology to trace Halal-certified foods throughout the supply chain.  Food companies in related market segments should consider developing plans to manage their risks of this emerging and costly litigation. 

Mr. Kronenberg has also blogged about food fraud and litigation risks.

As the world’s food chain becomes increasingly complex, intelligent RFID tags can help. They can be used to capture and store information about a product’s origins and travels through the supply chain, helping to document where the food came from and its authenticity – as well as helping to document that it has been properly stored and handled along the way.  You can learn more about some of these benefits here.
Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing