Technology is everywhere, even on the foods we consume. Technology can make our food choices easier and more flexible. We can be sure that we are choosing foods that fit our requirements; we can choose to be vegan, gluten-free, free-range, organic, kosher or halal, or any combination of those. Best of all, we can know our foods are safe for us to consume.
How’s this for new technology? Small snippets of DNA are taken from synthetic or non-produce items, like seaweed, and mixed with a little sugar and a non-toxic fluid. Then, this mixture is sprayed on produce like oranges and onions. The produce can then be traced back to whatever farm or supplier is coded into the DNA marker. And that makes our food more safe.
It does sound a little like science food fiction, but it isn’t. The actual science was taken from discoveries at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It began its discovery as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Now it may help you know that your food is safe. Should the food need to be recalled, it can easily be done.
Previously, produce was particularly difficult to trace because the boxes it was originally packaged in have long been destroyed before an issue is discovered. Now, if the actual tracking information is on the produce itself, a recall is much easier. Consumers and suppliers will be able to communicate much more effectively.
The internet has opened a huge range of food opportunities for all of us. If you should live in a community that doesn’t have a butcher that is kosher or food preparers that can make your food halal, the internet can be wonderful technology for you. But, as with anything online, you have to do your research.
The best thing you can do is get to know the company you are thinking about ordering from. Make sure they are reputable; contact them and see how quickly they reply. Good companies will make sure that your questions are answered and that you are satisfied with those answers.
Food companies will benefit from traceability and most likely, the government will mandate the necessity for it. Consumers will be much better for it, because you will be able to really know what you are eating or feeding to your family. It seems like knowing where the food came from should be really simple; it also seems like we would all know exactly what is in our food. But it is such a complex issue.
As our world continues to get smaller, there will be increasingly more food that is imported. Our food chain is worldwide and it gets more tangled everyday. Worldwide standards and technology for traceability must be consistent.