Companies should insist that food suppliers impose strict standards and even send inspectors overseas to verify compliance with quality standards for imported food products, writes Mark Fischetti in the September issue of Scientific American magazine. His article notes that terrorist plots, increasing imports of food from around the world, and centralized production are raising the chances that food will become tainted. Preventing contamination in the food supply chain will require tightening physical plant security and processing procedures.
Technology can play a role in assuring food safety, according to the article. Application of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on pallets and cases, for instance, can help to identify which farm or processing plant produced and handled the products.
Researchers are working on ways to make this technology even more useful in the food supply chain. For example, the University of Florida is developing tags that can be read through fluids and hence could be embedded in the walls of beverage and dairy food containers.
Although governments have been called upon to safeguard the food supply, the article suggests that the onus for preventing contamination rests with food suppliers and supply chain managers. Shaun Kennedy, deputy director of the U.S. National Center for Food Protection and Defense, is quoted as saying, "The strongest tool for stopping intentional contamination is supply chain verification."
[Source: "Is Your Food Contaminated?" Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, September 2007: pp. 112?117.]