Consumers Are Getting Closer to Food Traceability
Posted April 24, 2012
The topic of food safety hits the national airways every time there’s a major product recall or an unsafe practice is revealed. Recently, it’s “pink slime” that’s the hot food subject right now.
Every time these stories hit the national media, I’m reminded of something: consumers don’t know enough about where their food comes from and how it’s made. The release of a recent mobile food traceability app called CLEARthruchanges that dynamic.
CLEARthru gives consumers access to a wide range of information such as:
- Origin of product
- Product freshness
- Packaging information
- Nutrition and allergen facts
- Food recall information
All of this information can be accessed via a consumer’s smartphone by scanning a QR code. I think this technology has far-reaching potential.
Consumers Need the Ability to Trace Their Food
The incident of “pink slime” and major national recalls always highlights the fact that we’re left in the dark about too many things related to our food. We rarely know the exact location where our food is produced or whether there is a recall.
CLEARthru helps alleviate some of those poblems by giving consumers knowledge about exactly where their food was produced, and every processing and packing plant your food stops at on the way to the grocery store. This gives consumers an opportunity to look back into the food supply chain and access information that previously only manufacturers and distributors held in their data centers and food distribution software (site) systems.
It’s a great step toward giving consumers access to the information they need, but this technology is still at it’s early stages and needs a little time to develop.
There Are Still Limitations to Information
One of the major issues that I see with this app is that it requires consumers to have a smartphone in order to access this information. Beyond that, consumers have to scan the code in order to access it. While this isn’t a major imposition, most people that are shopping would rather get in and out of the grocery store. To incentivize consumers scanning these QR codes, however, CLEARthru offers specialty coupons that are attached to each QR code.
That should help with consumer adoption, but there’s one other major obstacle: companies have to agree to put these proprietary codes on their products. This is a sticking point. However, I do think that we as consumers could force these companies into adopting this kind of technology by demanding access to this important information. There are few things more important to know than where the food that sustains us comes from. And I think we need more of these kinds of technology solutions.
Do you have any thoughts on improving consumer traceability of our food? Please leave me a note over at my website at: Are Mobile Apps the Future of Food Traceability?
Other Posts by Derek Singleton
Sustainable Cities Collective
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