New tracking system will ensure meat safety, says IT firm
Matiq, the information technology subsidiary of Nortura, Norway's largest food supplier, said that it has teamed up with IBM to develop radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track and trace products from the farm, through the supply chain, to supermarket shelves.
Nortura is a Norwegian agricultural cooperative that operates slaughterhouses and other processing plants related to meat and eggs. The company is owned by about 31,200 farmers throughout the country and is one of 13 agricultural cooperatives in Norway.
Matiq said that it will work with IBM experts on sensors and RFID to develop chips for meat and poultry product packaging initially.
CEO of Matiq, Are Bergquist told FoodProductionDaily.com that Norwegian consumers are becoming increasingly aware of food quality, safety, origin and traceability, which, he said, is exerting greater pressure on manufacturers to keep track of every component in the manufacturing process.
“Traceability in the food chain is complex – the tracking system we are developing will generate information such as where the animal has been and the food it has eaten. The tag can be molded into a crate or the product packaging depending on the meat product involved,” said Bergquist.
He said that the project will use software that complies with GS1 EPCglobal's Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) standard.
Temperature and acidity guage
“Our RFID technology, based on UHF GEN2 passive tags, will enable processors to monitor product temperature and acidity to help ensure the produce is kept in optimal condition throughout the supply chain. We see it being used in a wide range of food products from chips to beer in the near future,” he said.
Linking RFID with such devices as temperature sensors gives processors a means of tracking their products in real time, allowing them to determine if food safety has been breached.
“We anticipate the technology being market ready in nine to twelve months. In the meantime, it has to be tested with a dedicated customer base to evaluate its effectiveness at every stage of the supply chain and with the whole range of meat products from pork chops to meat balls,” added Bergquist.
He claims that more awareness is needed about the benefits of RFID technology for food safety and predicts that tag costs will decrease significantly as volumes grow to meet increasing consumer demand and regulatory requirements for better food traceability and safety systems.
RFID is seen as a step up on bar codes by enabling those in the supply chain the ability to track individual products and obtain more data. Transponders, or RFID tags, are attached to objects. The tag will identify itself when it detects a signal from a reader that emits a radio frequency transmission.
Each RFID tag carries information on it such as a serial number, model number, colour, place of assembly or other types of data. When these tags pass through a field generated by a compatible reader, they transmit this information back to the reader, thereby identifying the object.