Indiana’s Crackdown on Hot Trucks
Last summer, Indiana State Police put a full court press on refrigerated food trucks whose loads exceeded the proper temperature range. The crackdown followed implementation of an Indiana state law on July 1 that made it a Class A infraction to transport food that is more than two degrees above the acceptable temperature, shows obvious signs of contamination or spoilage, or is loaded in such a way that risks cross-contamination. Tons of spoiled food was destroyed during the crackdown.
The pressure is on to improve the tracking of perishables through the cold chain and companies like Intelleflex are developing data visibility solutions that help curb food waste, provide asset tracking, and comply with more stringent state and federal regulations surrounding food safety. Intelleflex’s ZEST Data Services combined with its XC3 Technology multi-protocol RFID readers and tags can monitor temperature on a pallet of berries at the field level, then send actionable data via cellular networks to the distribution center or other location for real-time monitoring as it moves through the supply chain and to the grocers’ shelves.
Zapping food with ionizing radiation can help kill dangerous pathogens and even keep fruit fly pests in check, but it’s not without controversy. Some countries only allow it for dried herbs and spices, while in Brazil any food can be irradiated. In the U.S., Public Citizen and other consumer groups raised concerns that irradiation could be used to mask food that is spoiled or otherwise alter the food’s taste or chemical make-up.
Keepin’ It Cold
Cold chain technology makes it possible to keep food chilled or frozen (and control for other environmental variables, like humidity and carbon dioxide levels) whether it’s being transported across town or across the globe. Companies like Carrier Transicold, ThermoKing, Great Dane, Utility Trailer, Purfresh, Envirotainer and others continually perfect refrigerated equipment and technology for air, ocean, road and rail shipments—keepin’ it cold and safe.
Mad Cow Disease
The fatal neurodegenerative disease known as mad cow disease, which is easily transmitted from affected cattle to humans, peaked in the UK three years ago, killing 166 people by October 2009. By comparison, deaths in the U.S. have numbered in the single digits, yet the fear associated with mad cow disease has not subsided. Considering that mad cow disease is spread primarily through industrialized cattle-raising methods, whereby cattle are fed animal byproducts rather than plant-based feed (their natural diet), it continues to fuel the debate over the limits and practices of modern food production.
In recent years, Monsanto has come under increased criticism for its growing domination in the area of genetically modified crops and enforcement of biological patents, which many argue have given the agribusiness giant a global monopoly on seed production and weed and pest control. The company’s “terminator technology,” which produces plants that have sterile seeds, remains highly contentious. Just last month, a provision to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013, which extends new protections to genetically modified seeds, drew complaints from food safety advocates who charged the rider (nicknamed the “Monsanto Protection Act”) was quietly passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and received no review from either the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees.
The independent, non-profit organization NSF International provides standards development, product certification, auditing, education and risk management in the areas of food, water, health and consumer products. Over the past 69 years, NSF International has expanded from its start as the National Sanitation Foundation at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health to a network of laboratories throughout the U.S., Europe, South America and China.