Showing results for: Food labelling and traceability
The UK’s Global Food Security programme has published a report on innovation within the UK food systems, focusing particularly on the contribution of data technologies and artificial intelligence to food security.
FCRN member Danilo Pezo has contributed to this synthesis paper, which is based on the Programme on Forests‘ project Leveraging Agricultural Value Chains to Enhance Tropical Tree Cover and Slow Deforestation.
People tend to underestimate the greenhouse gas emissions and energy use associated with different food types, according to this paper, but are likely to buy lower-emission food types when provided with information on greenhouse gas emissions.
Labelling schemes to indicate higher welfare standards for broiler chickens have contributed to some changes in the governance of poultry welfare in Australia, argues this paper - but those changes are mostly incremental, and the labelling schemes may even bolster the perceived legitimacy of intensive poultry farming.
According to a survey of US beer drinkers, 59% would be willing to pay more for beer that has been brewed using more sustainable processes, such as energy efficiency or carbon saving measures. On average, respondents were willing to pay $0.22 more per 12-ounce bottle than the price they already paid for their favourite beer ($1.69 per 12-ounce bottle).
The UK’s Eating Better alliance has launched a new video exploring how to eat “Less and better” meat, where the alliance defines “better” as being better for the environment, health and food workers. The video explains several different labels that can be found on meat, including the Red Tractor, organic, free range, and RSPCA assured.
In the latest of its Food Brexit Briefings, the Food Research Collaboration examines how UK food standards may be affected by post-Brexit trade deals - specifically, the case of hormone-treated beef, which is currently permitted in the United States but not in the European Union. The report points out that at least one of the hormones routinely used in US beef production is a cancer risk, and that there is not enough evidence to show that five other hormones are safe to use.
Scientists used DNA barcoding (testing a short section of the genome) to check whether fish in Metro Vancouver are really the species that they are labelled as being. They found that 25% of fish sampled were mislabelled, with error rates higher in restaurants than in grocery stores or sushi bars. Since the price of the claimed species was often higher than that of the real species, the paper suggests that some labelling may be intentional. However, the paper also suggests that some errors could be due to confusion between vernacular fish names (rather than scientific species names).
The US divisions of Danone, Mars, Nestle and Unilever have established the new Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, hoping to influence policymakers and regulators in five key areas: product transparency, nutrition, the environment, food safety and a positive workplace for food and agriculture workers. According to the Washington Post, the new alliance supports the reduction of salt in packaged foods and the introduction of “nutrition facts panels” to highlight sugar and calorie information (read more here).
The relationship between diets, health and quality of life has been the focus of several initiatives to accelerate a move towards healthier diets. However, the results of these interventions have been mixed. This paper by Susan Jebb of the University of Oxford summarises some of these dietary change interventions while discussing the need for improved methods to monitor and evaluate their progress.
France recently amended its agriculture bill to ban non-animal foods from being labelled similarly to animal products, e.g. “soy sausage”, on the basis that such labelling could be misleading to consumers.
The book “A handbook of food crime: Immoral and illegal practices in the food industry and what to do about them”, edited by Allison Gray and Ronald Hinch, discusses some of the problems in current food systems that lead to food crime. Topics discussed include food adulteration, forced labour in the chocolate industry, animal transportation and regulation of food waste.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) hopes to use blockchain technology to make the entire seafood supply chain traceable. Working with tech startup TraSeable, fishing company Sea Quest and blockchain company Viant, WWF is running a pilot project to trace tuna through the supply chain by tagging catches with radio-frequency identification chips and QR codes - which can be scanned by a mobile phone.
Consumers prefer the term “100% plant-based” to “vegan”, according to a survey of US adults. When asked a series of questions including “Which tastes better?” and “Which is healthier?”, more than two-thirds of respondents selected “100% plant-based” over “vegan” (no other answers were available). According to Bark Stuckey (President and Chief Innovation Officer of Mattson, the organisation that conducted the survey), the preference might be because “plant-based” is seen as a positive dietary change, whereas “vegan” is seen as a whole lifestyle associated with deprivation and activism.
Shoppers do not notice sustainability rating logos on packaging, according to a report by QuadPackaging and Package Insight. In the study, 60 participants had their eye movements tracked while “shopping” in a retail laboratory. The products they were presented with were fictional brands with logos claiming different levels of sustainability. The logos did not represent a real sustainability standard. While 40% of the participants said that sustainability affects their purchasing decisions, the eye-tracking technology showed that 92% of the participants did not notice the sustainability logos.
Genetically modified salmon could potentially be on the US market by 2019.
The blockchain could be used to make it easier to trace the source of food items and tackle food safety scares quickly, but the system still depends on the honesty of those making the data entries.