Food Revolution and Traceability


More data can bolster food safety, says FDA leadership

Frank Yiannas, FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, says two revolutions are taking place in the food sector: one focuses on gene editing and sustainable processes for food production. The other is the use of data to ensure food safety.

The FDA’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 includes $1.2 billion for food programs, with food safety accounting for $82.5 million of that amount. Data utilization will account for about 54% of that total, or $44.8 million.

Yiannas states. For me, traceability is not just a tool to try to respond quickly to a problem. It’s about providing a new level of transparency into the food system, which can be a game changer in terms of influencing consumer behavior, enhancing prevention of problem outbreaks, and understanding how changes need to be made.”

Better traceability data also means a wealth of information that machine learning systems can reference to predict possible problems. The resources range widely from food producers, processing importers, and marketing companies.

In addition to this, we will touch on the paradigm shift in consumers through the pandemic. At the outset of the pandemic, grocery store shelves were emptied due to shortages of some products. This meant that problems in the food system supply chain became apparent; Yiannas states that “many of these problems were logistical.

With consumers getting all kinds of food from grocery stores, it took the FDA a long time to redirect food to retail sales. However, they are responding quickly to these responses and are successfully coordinating information/responses with the private sector by providing flexibility in these labeling situations as needed.

The “weaknesses in the supply chain,” “usefulness of management systems,” and “information from the private sector” identified in these issues can be used as better indicators of food transparency to move the “food revolution” forward.


More data can bolster food safety, says FDA leadership (FOOD DIVE)


True transparency visible in the blockchain

Food products with “organic” or “fair trade” labels are often seen on the streets these days. Although awareness of terms related to social consumption in Japan is increasing year by year, it still remains low by global standards. According to Trenders, awareness of ethical consumption is 23.0%, with the highest awareness rate among those in their 20s.

The Japan Fairtrade Forum survey also shows that the awareness rate of fair trade is 32.8%, up 3.5 percentage points from 2015 and now over 30%. In contrast to the increase in awareness, however, there is little difference in purchasing experience, from 42.2% in 2015 to 42.4% as of 2019.

Reasons for the lack of significant changes in purchasing choices in contrast to the increase in awareness of these terms related to social consumption include the difficulty of understanding the contribution and the target products and services.

Furthermore, the actual certification systems, such as organic, have different standards depending on the certifying organization, making the information ambiguous and making it difficult for consumers to get an accurate picture. Organic JAS, the only certification organization in Japan, requires certification by an organization recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Although the organic food certification mark in Japan is limited to “Organic JAS,” there are many different certification organizations in the world, and their standards vary. The actual criteria for what constitutes organic vary widely from certification body to certification body. This raises another issue of opacity.

By using blockchain and other forms of traceability to reveal the connection to the producer and the transparency of the certification, we can encourage consumers to purchase ethical foods. This reveals another aspect that is difficult to see.

By disclosing the manufacturing process, we can become aware of the real thoughts and feelings of the producers, and realize that we are supporting someone else’s life and that we are supported by our purchasing actions. By knowing these connections, it is possible to visualize how much one’s daily purchasing activities can contribute to society.

In addition, we believe that clarifying the standards under which food products are certified as organic or fair trade will lead to an increase in consumers’ awareness of food purchasing. This will also contribute to raising the level of certification in the world.

The reliable information provided by the blockchain can play a major role in promoting ethical purchasing by consumers as a “true supply chain” that shows the warmth of human connections and the transparency of what they eat, which is difficult to feel in today’s complex supply chains. It could play a major role in encouraging consumers to make ethical purchases.

Enriching the Food Experience through Traceability

Every ingredient has a story before it reaches the dinner table. Where (where), who (who), and how (how) it was grown. How was it processed, and how was it delivered to us? The stage is now set for the globalization of food, and the number of players involved in the food industry is increasing, from production to distribution to delivery. What is the significance of weaving this story in the context of traceability or transparency?

The most important aspect is the assurance of safety. People are made of what they eat. That is why “food safety” is a critical issue that affects human lives. Every year, one in ten people in the world suffer from food poisoning, resulting in about 420,000 deaths“. Documenting every process in the supply chain, from upstream to downstream, would allow for instant identification of contaminated food and other items and prevent the spread of the problem. As 94% of consumers say they feel high loyalty to brands that provide food transparency, they have high expectations for corporate activities.

This curbs the negative aspects of food distribution, but can it be made more positively appealing?

The hitherto untold story spun by traceability will surely enrich our food life. This is because enjoying food is not only about the taste, but also about the story behind it.

We taste food with all of our senses and with the sensitivity to understand the thoughts and feelings of the creator of the food. For example, the food that our family cooks for us tastes so delicious because of the love and affection that is put into it.

On the other hand, a meal without such a backstory is a little tasteless. Fast food is served in a mechanical operation, and convenience store bento boxes have only the information on the ingredients label on the back of the package. While the taste itself is satisfying enough, it is unlikely that you will feel a sense of “satisfaction” when you eat them.

Whether it is untouched food or cooked food, our perception of it differs greatly depending on whether or not there is a story behind it. This is why tracing the roots of food can make our daily choices about what we eat more enjoyable and richer.

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