ABI Research has published a report on how RFID technology can help trace food spoilage and prevent outbreaks of illness.
Research has released a new report, called "RFID-Enabled Food Safety and
Traceability Systems," that explores how the Food Safety Modernization Act
affects use of RFID in the food industry.
, signed by President Obama on Jan. 4, calls for a shift
in the FDA's focus toward new food traceability rules aimed at preventing food
contamination, rather than responding to specific instances of food-borne illness.
new legislation will establish a more standardized way to trace food items,
Bill Arnold, principal analyst for RFID and barcode scanning at ABI Research,
told eWEEK. "There's a lot more emphasis on establishing a standardized
food traceability system," Arnold said.
FDA has selected standards from the nonprofit organization GS1
to monitor products in the food
supply. GS1 is a global body that has developed standards to improve efficiency
and visibility in supply chains for health care and other industries.
has the ability to play a data-gathering role in the whole area of food safety
and in the prevention of disease outbreak," Arnold said.
data collection RFID tags with sensors can detect and record if at any time the
temperature for a container of vegetables hits 40 degrees Fahrenheit rather
than the ideal 34 degrees, or if berries get too cold and freeze rather than
remaining at the acceptable 34 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit, Arnold explained.
data delivered by wireless technology also provides more flexibility for
grocers, according to Arnold.
you're a grocer and you get a load of produce, today your only option is to
accept or reject an entire load," he said. "With this more granular
information, you can accept the pallets with acceptable temperature limits
maintained and reject just those that had a problem."
48 million cases of food-borne illness occurring in 2010 according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mobile device manufacturers may
look to make a bigger push toward using RFID devices to improve food safety.
such as RFID allows the food industry to trace products and record
environmental conditions in the complete food supply chain.
food industry could also possibly find ways to save some of the $35 billion a
year in wasted produce, Arnold said. And it can help the food industry avoid
outbreaks of serious illness, like the one that required a massive recall of
tomatoes due to salmonella poisoning in 2008.
RFID customers include large retail grocery chains and also food brands such as
Hawaiian Tropic and Chiquita.
food company Dole Food
has also been in the
news in the past for a 2005 E. coli scare stemming from recalled bags of
lettuce, and the company is an early adopter of RFID products for use in fresh
produce temperature monitoring.
in the early stages looking into how they use RFID in a data collection system
to prevent recalls and provide enhanced freshness all at the same time,"
of RFID systems include mobile device leaders such as Motorola and RFID
manufacturers like Intelleflex
gives cold-chain providers the tools they need to actively manage product
in-transit-resulting in reduced shrink, higher-product quality and safety
verification-and improve efficiency throughout the cold chain," Peter
Mehring, CEO of Intelleflex, said in a statement. Intelleflex recently ran an
RFID trial at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture in Honolulu.
player in the RFID food supply market is Australia's Ceebron, which makes a
line of proprietary Smart-Trace
data recorders that connect to cellular networks.
in RFID tags monitor the temperature and humidity of products, and RFID readers
can transmit the data using WiFi, Ethernet, Bluetooth or industrial mobile data
existing cellular infrastructures in place, costs of implementing RFID should
be manageable, Arnold suggested.
lot of this is possible because you can use existing infrastructure for
communication networks," he said. "You probably wouldn't want to
cover a whole farm with WiFi access points, but you have cell phone
communications just about everywhere, so the data can be collected constantly
from point of harvest to delivery at the retailer."