Innovations could improve food safety

Greater safety across the food supply chain is getting more attention in the United States. A number of high-profile food contamination and health scares in recent years have raised scrutiny for everything from field harvesting methods to warehousing and food transportation safety standards. Shipment visibility and cold-chain tracking, integrated with transportation management software, can contribute to greater food safety. Other new technologies are being introduced for the food supply chain to help distributors know what products are safe to distribute to consumers.

Insignia Technologies helps signal danger
Innovative label technologies have made great strides in other industries and now may be set to take on food packaging. Smart technology provider Insignia Technologies, based in the UK, is about to launch the Novas Embedded Label, which is a color-changing label that is triggered by the exposure to carbon dioxide, reported Food Logistics magazine.

"Our color-changing labels will give a clear indication as to how long the packet has been opened and if it's still fit for consumption," Stephen Currie, chief operating officer of Insignia Technologies, told the source.

Packaging costs may grow
The label is expected to impact the overall cost of food, but with the improved safety precautions, consumers may find additional peace of mind to be worth the price. Knowing how long a package has been opened can help people know if food is safe, the source stated.

"We are proposing an additional 3 to 4 (US) cents per pack," Currie asserted to the source. "We feel that this is an extremely good value given the functionality the label will provide."

The Novas Embedded Label is not currently available in the U.S., it is in a testing period in the UK. Insignia Technologies hopes that a successful trial period will accelerate interest in different areas all over the world that are interested in improving food safety.

"We will be adding innovation to the already established supply chain and incorporating the label into the finished pack," Currie continued. "From a shopper point of view, there's nothing different other than extra functionality on their packaging."

Food safety information must be improved
The importance of the food supply chain and food safety has long been recognized in the U.S., and experts in the field are working together to spur more innovations, similar to the Novas Embedded Label. More discussions will continue at the 2013 Food Safety Summit, which will take place in Baltimore, Maryland, at the Baltimore Convention Center, April 30 to May 2, 2013.

"Our goal is to advance food safety by providing relevant food safety information and solutions across the entire food supply chain, while keeping the industry, businesses and consumers safe," said Scott Wolters, director of trade shows and conferences of the Food Safety Summit.