The National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe, a food and beverage training and certification program, is required by most restaurants as a basic credential for their management staff, according to Wikipedia, and is a good first step in raising food safety awareness for kitchen staff, servers and others handling food. More information is available on their Web site at www.servsafe.org.
Solve the Outbreak App from the CDC
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a clever way to engage a tech savvy audience, who must play the role of a disease outbreak investigator assigned to “Solve the Outbreak” via an interactive app, which can be downloaded from the iTunes store. According to the CDC, “The app, which is targeted to consumers, provides a game-like interface and works to incorporate tips and definitions along the way, to make learning about epidemiology fun. Outbreaks may be fictional or based of a real event that CDC employees have worked on.”
When you’re the largest coffee company in the world, the way you approach sustainability and sourcing in the supply chain has a significant impact on the environment, workers and consumers, and peers in the business community. It also correlates to global food safety and security. In recent months, Starbucks has made several important announcements that demonstrate the company’s commitment and responsibility in these areas. In February, the company said it would only use sustainably sourced palm oil in 100 percent of its products globally by 2015. (Currently, the company only uses sustainably sourced palm oil for products in the U.S. and EU). Palm oil is used in half of all consumer goods, but growing demand has forced cultivation into the rainforests, making the crop one of the primary causes of rainforest destruction. Then last month, Starbucks announced that it would invest in a new farming and research center in Costa Rica, which is part of its larger plan to source all of its coffee ethically by 2015.
When Pigs ‘Swim’
China has earned a poor reputation when it comes to food safety and despite some genuine improvements in government oversight, it will take some time for the country to firmly position itself in a more positive light. The latest incident involving 16,000 dead and diseased pigs floating in the Huangpu River near Shanghai isn’t helping China’s case. Pig farming is big business in China these days. In 2011, the country produced and consumed half the world’s pork. But, safe and ethical farming practices haven’t kept up. It’s believed a government crackdown on illegal butcher shops that buy dead pigs from farmers was behind the dumping of carcasses in the river instead of properly disposing of them.
WEF’s New Vision for Agriculture
The World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture initiative brings together representatives from the public and private sectors at the global level to develop sustainable agricultural systems for the future. By 2050, there will be 9 billion people to feed on the planet, while agricultural systems will face even greater pressure from water scarcity, climate change and land constraints. Better logistics, new technologies, advanced agricultural techniques and other solutions are all part of the holistic approach that’s needed to feed a growing world population.
YottaMark operates the HarvestMark platform, which is used by over 400 companies and more than 3,000 farms to track and trace fresh food. The company has made great strides in traceability throughout the entire food chain, “from seed to store to kitchen,” according to HarvestMark’s Web site. Growers also use the company’s solutions to comply with the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), while consumers respond with more loyalty to brands and stores that carry produce tagged with HarvestMark labels.
Founder and chief technology officer, Elliott Grant, told FreshPlaza.com recently that the watermelon industry is a key customer base for the company because the HarvestMark platform can be used to engage with consumers and gather feedback, essentially allowing watermelon growers to conduct real-world testing to find out which varieties of watermelon appeal most to consumers. “We believe HarvestMark is the holy grail of understanding how a product is performing,” said Grant.