Promising First Step on Journey to Food Traceability

CANADA - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says the challenge in developing a national food traceability system will be to accommodate a range of commodities across a range of regions, writes Bruce Cochrane, University of Manitoba.
calendar icon 9 June 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Last week scientists, food industry stakeholders and government representatives met in Winnipeg to discuss traceability and provide input for a national research and development strategy.

Christiane Deslauriers, the director-general of science policy and planning with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, says creating a broadly based food traceability system will be a challenge.

Clip-Christiane Deslauriers-Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

We don't necessarily have the right technique for tracking every different stage of a product.

There's lots of different products so you need different technologies, you need different processes because every sector, if you're talking about seafood or meat or produce they go through different handling and the whole chain from production to consumption is very different so you have to address all of those things.

In addition something that is going to be very tricky for the industry to manage is that you need a uniform system.

An industry won't be able to implement a different tracking system depending on whether it's operating out of Vancouver or Halifax or whether it's operating out of Winnipeg or Ottawa and so getting a standardized system or a unified system for any one of the commodities is going to be, I think, a very big challenge.

Then there are lots of different commodities with different needs and reconciling how to best use the experience that we've gained in one commodity to accelerate developments in another commodity is going to be another challenge.

None of these are insurmountable.

I think the first step that's very promising is that people are coming together to discuss it in a very open forum and everything that I've heard at this meeting has been very open and candid and I think really the industry is off to a good start.

Input gathered during the conference will now be compiled into a report, containing the outline of a research and development strategy, which will be distributed for wider discussion among industry, policy leaders and technologists.

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