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Some 48 million cases of illness in the United States each year are caused by spoiled or contaminated food, much of it coming from fresh produce consumed in its raw state, according to the Center for Disease Control. Two ways to ameliorate this "epidemic" are to improve control over the conditions in which food is kept as it moves from farm to consumer markets, and to enhance the traceability of food shipments within the supply chain.
"RFID systems with temperature sensors can contribute to less tainted produce and provide the same standards-based tracing, while delivering information that could prevent as much as $35bn a year in wasted produce," says Bill Arnold, ABI Research principal analyst.
Once the initial FDA trials - to be conducted in partnership with industry associations such as the United Fresh Produce Association for produce and the American Meat Institute for fresh meats - are completed, the question will be: which stakeholders in the industry will actually buy and use these systems?
"That is a very big question," says Arnold. "It is of most benefit to food retailers, but they don't control the harvest point or the shipper, so it's a matter of who decides they either have the clout or the ability to make it happen. Self-interest and liability limitation will be the motivators. In some cases large retail chains will buy RFID systems and require their suppliers to use them. In other cases, large food brands such as Dole, Hawaiian Tropic, Chiquita and others may invest to promote their food freshness and safety, allowing them to justify a premium price."
ABI Research's new RFID-enabled Food Safety and Traceability Systems study reviews the Food Safety Modernization Act's impact on food-industry use of Auto ID technology in both the short and intermediate terms. It provides forecasts for the use of RFID-enabled data logging devices from 2010 through 2015 in cold chain applications.
Source: ABI Research
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